Saturday, March 6, 2010

Five Tips for Writing Good Grant Objectives

Writing good grant objectives is not rocket science, but I have seen it trip up more than a few writers. Think of your objectives as the cornerstone of your project design.  They are linked to your needs and your solutions, and they play a prominent role in the evaluation section. It is definitely worth the time to make them as strong as possible.  Here are a few tips to help you out:
  1. Make your objectives SMART. That stands for Specific, Measurable Achievable, Realistic (I've also heard Relevant used here, but I prefer Realistic) and Time-bound. 
  2. Use measures that are available to you. Unless there are specific measures that are required by the funding source, write your objective with measurement tools that you have available at your site.  While you should use existing assessments whenever possible, this might be the opportunity to add new assessments you have been considering using anyway. Just be careful not to commit yourself and the organization to the implementation of a new battery of assessments in addition to the implementation of a new program.
  3. Make sure each objective has all its parts. The most effective outcome objectives are written as standard behavioral objectives.  Each should have four parts:
    1. What will be measured?
    2. When will it be measured?
    3. How much growth do you expect?
    4. How will you know that the objective has been achieved?
  4. Distinguish implementation objectives from outcome objectives. Implementation objectives define your targets for implementing the program (e.g., Fifty program participants will be enrolled by June 30, 2011, as measured by intake records.) and outcome objectives define your ultimate achievement targets (e.g., Forty students will complete the program each year, as measured by achievement of a passing score on the XYZ exam.). Think of it this way: the achievement of an implementation objective proves that you are implementing the program (doing what you said you would do).  The achievement of outcome objective proves that the program works.
  5. Review the formal evaluation requirements of the funding source before finalizing your objectives. Since you will be required to demonstrate the degree to which you have achieved your objectives and you will be required to provide specific data to the funding source as part of a national, state, or organizational (if you have a private funding source) evaluation, it makes sense to try to tailor your objectives to the data that will be required for the formal evaluation.  Not only does this streamline your planning and help with implementation, it also demonstrates your understanding of the needs and requirements of the funding source.

For more grant writing tips, check out the Grant Writing Resources at or download our Grant Tips iPhone App.  You can also text the word GRANTS to 313131 to receive grant writing tips 2-3 per week on your mobile phone (Tips are free, but standard text message rates from your mobile carrier may apply if you don't have an unlimited text plan.).

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Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.