Goal by Any Other Name

Developing (writing) the goals and objectives for projects and proposals is a difficult task for many grant seekers. Why? One reason is the lack of standard definitions, ones on which everyone agrees. At one extreme, goals are lofty statements such as "cure world hunger" or "peace on earth." At the other extreme (where you will find us), goals are concrete, realistic, and measurable. Naturally, people tend to hold that their own definition is the correct one. A person's definition usually derives from the field in which the person works, and different fields use the words differently.

To illustrate the point, a list of interchangeable words (synonyms according to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary) includes goal, objective, target,

2 Cheryl Carter New and James Aaron Quick, Workbook II: Goals and Objectives, Analyzing RFPs, and Parts of Proposal, Polaris Grantseeking Fundamentals Workshop, 2001.

purpose, and intent. Roget's Thesaurus adds to the list aim, design, ambition, and destination. Some groups use strategy in place of objective. Some groups organize ideas by objective, then strategy, then activity. Some call the lowest level under objectives a job, and others call that level a task. To complete the circle, find task in a thesaurus, and you will find goal as a substitute.

The bottom line is this: in project development and in proposal writing, it does not matter which words are used, as long as the intended meaning is clearly conveyed to the reader. Goals and objectives simply are a way of explaining what you want to do, for whom, and with what result. Writing goals and objectives is a way to organize your project. Writing goals is very similar to making an outline.

Rarely do grantors define exactly what they mean by goal and objective (or the other words they may use instead). Whatever grantors' own definitions, they assume you use the same ones, or at least that you understand theirs. The way to insure that you are communicating with the reader is to clearly explain your definition of a mission, a goal, and an objective so the reader knows what to expect. The ultimate purpose is to give the reader as much information as possible with which to judge the structure and value of your project. The best way to avoid problems is to eliminate any possibility of confusing the reader.

In this section, we describe a logical structure and give clear definitions. Feel free, however, to use a methodology familiar to you, perhaps one used in your field, or by your agency, or organization.

The model we use is one that combines fundamental principles from business, industry, and government. Whether your proposal goes to a corporation, a foundation, or a federal agency, you will provide the reader with a logical structure, and enough information for your project to be judged fairly.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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