How to Set Nonprofit Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes in Your Grant Application
After the grant writer has described a problem in ways that interest the reader’s concerns, the next step is to introduce what the nonprofit can achieve if it takes on the proposed project.
The writer hasn’t yet described the project activities, but this section jumps ahead to show what could be achieved if the project were a success. Why? First you hope to pique the reader’s interest and concern (in the problem statement), next you show him the possibility of a better future (in goals, objectives, and outcomes), and then you explain how to achieve that vision (in the methods section).
Goals, objectives, and outcomes are related but different terms. The following points give a brief overview of these terms:
Goals are broad, general results. They may be somewhat lofty.
Objectives should be measurable results. How much do you want to accomplish in what time frame, involving how many people (or trees or salamanders)?
Outcomes are the trickiest to state. An outcome is the answer to the question, So what? So what if you provide antismoking classes to high school students, reaching every teen in four school districts? Well, the outcome may be that a lower than average percentage of those specific students begins smoking in high school. Or in college. Or ever.
The writer wants the outcomes to be significant, measurable, and specific, but he also has to be careful not to overstate how much the project can claim or measure. What if the antismoking classes are one of a series of health classes and others also include antismoking sessions? The question becomes, which program really caused the change?
If a grant says a nonprofit intends to achieve a long-term outcome, the agency better be prepared to conduct the research necessary to find out whether progress is being made toward achieving that outcome.