Do You Speak Grant-ese?
By Gail Shapiro and Carla Cataldo
Gail Shapiro, left, and Carla Cataldo
The application will ask you to provide a thoughtful description of your organizations mission, goals, and objectives, as well as detailed information on the inputs, activities, and outcomes for your project. But do these terms have the same meaning for you as they have for a potential funder? As you read and respond to different funders guidelines, you may find a lot of discrepancies in terminology. To deal with these discrepancies and with instances when a specific funders guidelines may not be clear, you can fall back on these universal definitions, written in the language of Grant-ese.
A mission statement is an idealistic and concise statement of why the organization exists.
A mission statement expresses three elements: business, purpose, and values, although one or more of these may be implied. In other words, why does the organization exist, what is its aim, and by what principles does it operate? The mission is not measurable, nor does it tell how the organization is going to accomplish the mission. It should be both succinct and lofty so that it is memorable and inspiring. For example:
The goal statement avoids describing how the organization is going to accomplish the goal, just as a good mission statement does not state how the organization will accomplish its mission. These three goal statements correctly focus on an ultimate result:
An objective is a measurable, time-specific result that the organization expects to accomplish.
More narrowly defined than goals, objectives should show some sort of movement as a result of your activities. An objective can be stated as who will do what by when. You may have several objectives to address each of your goals.
Using the first goal cited aboveto encourage women to take responsibility for their own financial well-being and self sufficiencyhere are three potential objectives:
To communicate fluently in Grant-ese, its critical to grasp the difference between goals and objectives:
Measuring ResultsIf there is no way to measure change, you either are describing a goal (not an objective), or you will need to rethink the objective.
In the example above, evidence that the first objective was accomplished would be the written curriculum documents. Evidence that the second objective was met could include results of a test administered to new facilitators showing that they learned the training materials.
There are several different ways to categorize objectives. In human services, for example, objectives often measure knowledge (changes in learning or skills), attitude (changes in opinion and approach), and behavior (changes in ability or performance).
Learning and using Grant-ese correctly will help you accurately describe your project or program, and will help position your proposal for the best chance of funding success.
This article is adapted from Get That Grant! The Quick-Start Guide to Successful Proposals by Gail R. Shapiro and Carla C. Cataldo (Booklocker, 2009). For more information, click here.