This month we are focusing on grant writing skills that will increase the likelihood of funding success! Thus far, our topics have included “Being Grant Ready,” “Funding your Mission,” and Writing your Program Description.” This week our focus is on a topic that usually raises a lot of questions: Goals, Outcomes and Objectives.
More and more funding sources are requesting program outcomes so that they have an understanding of how their money has made a difference in the lives of those you serve. It is not enough to say, “we served 50 people,” but instead, how the lives of those 50 have been made better. Clearly, if you are trying to demonstrate that you are making a difference in the lives of people, it is important to think about evaluation prior to starting the program. Developing the program is the best time to being thinking about outcomes.
To get started, it is helpful to get clear on definitions for key terms:
Goals – goals are broad-based and connected to the mission of the organization. They may not necessarily be measurable. For example, the overarching goal for a program offered by an early childhood education program might be “Children enter school ready to learn.”
Objectives – objectives are the measurable steps that your organization will be taking toward the goal. It is best to use SMART Objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results Oriented and Timed. So, for the goal mentioned above, one objective could be:
By 2016 Children living in the XYZ community will know their alphabet when they enter Kindergarten.
Tips for Success:
- As you develop your goals and objectives, include only those objectives which your program or service can directly impact.
- Include only a few key objectives, having a large number of objectives becomes burdensome to track and report.
- Ask yourself, what do we want to know? What do our stakeholders want to know about our work?
- Begin collecting data at the beginning of the program/service.
- Build evaluation into your program budget.
Many people find that evaluating programs and services is the most difficult part of grant writing. The key is to think about evaluation from the perspective of the funder and to remember the key question, “how are we making a difference in the lives of those we serve?” Need additional assistance, send us an email and we will send you a worksheet to guide the development of your objectives.