Back to Basics: Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes
To write a compelling and successful grant proposal, there are three core areas to focus on: goals, objectives, and anticipated outcomes. While these three parts should be described sequentially, they should also be considered a unit.
It is best not to develop each section in isolation, but rather to begin the grant-writing process by establishing outcomes first. For instance, if you receive a grant, what is the endgame? At the end of your implementation phase, where do you see yourself, your class, your school district? Asking such questions up front will help to unite the goals and objectives with the anticipated outcomes.
Goals: Goals arise from the needs statement, which should be the first part of an application. A goal is a description of what you wish to accomplish with the funding you are applying for. It captures a broad overview of the change you would like to accomplish. This part of an application also includes identifying a target audience that will be impacted by the proposed project. Although it is an overview, your argument should be precise.
Objectives: Objectives state how you envision accomplishing the goals. This includes a timeframe for reaching each goal. It is also where you begin adding data to support the objectives. The more detailed your data is, the more convincing your argument will be. Funders want compelling reasons to fund projects. It is helpful to avoid unfocused aims or overly ambitious statements when crafting objectives.
Outcomes: Outcomes are measurable results of the program you describe in your proposal. Establishing a realistic outcome at the beginning of the grant process helps to build credibility. Outcomes should include who benefits most from the project, but also who else (beyond the target audience) will receive beneficial effects of the funding. The larger your group of beneficiaries and the greater the impact on the community (e.g., your school, district, or surrounding community), the more interesting it is to funders.