Nonprofit organizations, such as charities, artistic foundations and educational programs, rely on obtaining grants to keep their operations going. A major part of the grant application process is the identification of the goals and objectives of a specific project the agency wishes to undertake. Grant writers must understand the difference between goals and objectives and the functions that goals and objectives serve in the application process.
Goal statements offer information on the reason behind the project and describe the project's specific objective. Goal statements tend to have a broad focus and carry little depth. Goal statements describe the project's intentions in general term without the fine details of how the applicant plans to reach those goals. However, the best goal statements include some measurable aspects of what the project manager hopes to accomplish, as well as a deadline for reaching that goal.
"The goal of this program is to feed Houston's homeless" is an admirable goal, but a poor example of an effective goal statement. An effective goal statement includes measurable quantities and dates to reach the specified goals. An improvement on the above goal statement would be, "The goal of this program is to feed 1,000 of Houston's homeless three meals per day from September 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014."
Objectives outline the methods that the grant applicant will use to obtain the outcomes listed in the goal statements. While goal statements tend to be broad and abstract, objectives are narrow and concrete. Objectives also contain measurable criteria that show how the goals will be reached. Just as with goals, effective objective statements must meet several criteria. The qualities of effective objective statements can be recalled with the acronym SMART, as they must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-limited.
In the above example, the goal is to feed 1,000 homeless Houstonians three meals a day starting September 1. The objectives for this goal can include, "Identify five outlets that offer free or discounted food by August 15," "Sign up 50 volunteers to cook and serve food by August 10," "Contact three homeless shelters to start outreach programs by August 1" and "Secure four facilities near where the homeless gather for cooking and serving meals by July 15".