In September Kirsten and I attended a “Grant Writing Boot CampTM” facilitated by Dr. Bev Browning and co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention, and Parenting (MOAPPP). As evaluators, we don’t write a lot of grants, however sometimes we do help our clients write the evaluation sections of their proposals and both Kirsten and I have interest in building our grant writing skills. In our capacity at ACET, however, we are always on the look-out for funding opportunities that might be of interest to the organizations we work with, so it was really helpful that Dr. Browning covered popular and less utilized resources used to identify potential funders and gave insightful tips on grant writing in the workshop. Participants practiced writing grant applications including powerful statement of need, goal statements, and SMART objectives.
Dr. Browning spent a fair amount of time focusing on the importance of writing “great” goal statements (i.e., the end one strives to obtain) and the difference between the three types of objectives (i.e., major milestone or checkpoint on your rout to reaching a goal): outcome, process, and impact.
Dr. Browning’s suggestions for writing “great” goal statements include:
- Goal statements should be only one sentence in length;
- Goal statements should be clear and concise (i.e., who is the target population and where should they be at the end of the grant period);
- Goal statements should be action-oriented and full of verbs; and
- Goal statements should not include any measurements or timelines.
Here is an example of a good goal statement: The Earthquake Relief Organization will design a new program to educate government officials on building code standards to prevent future injuries and casualties from building collapse.
In her book Grant Writing for Dummies, Dr. Browning encourages grant writers to provide objectives for each goal (and each year) for which they are requesting funds, and outlines the differences between the three types of objectives.
Outcome objectives show what the project will accomplish with the planned activities and should include terms such as increase and decrease. Dr. Browning suggests thinking SMART when writing outcome objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Here is an example of a SMART outcome objective: Participants who have been in the program for one year or more will have maintained safe and stable housing for at least 3 months.
Process objectives are the activities needed to reach your goals and meet or exceed your measurable outcomes, or SMART objectives. Process objectives should include the actual, chronological activities that need to occur from the time you received grant funding until the monies have been spent. Dr. Browning suggests the best way to present your process objectives is in a table format (e.g., timeline chart). Process objectives should not include measurable terms (e.g., increase or decrease), they should, however, be written quantifiably.
Here is an example of a process objective: Six new staff will be trained to administer family counseling to program participants in the first year.
Impact objectives demonstrate the achievement of the goal of the project or program and show the reader there has been an impact or change on the target population. They are generally used when grant writers are asked to write about benefits to participants. There are no common words in impact objectives, but they should include signs of significant change.
Here is an example of an impact objective: Prevents family disruptions by providing intensive residential family services to women and children experiencing substance abuse.
I hope this information has been helpful. Do any of you have grant writing tips you would like to share with us?