Grant Writing: Eliminating the Confusion between Goals and Objectives

Grants are an essential means for nonprofits to support their activities and programs. Writing a successful proposal to a government agency, corporation, foundation or trust does not have to be a daunting task. But, to be eligible for funding, a grant proposal must be submitted.

Nonprofits including charities, artistic foundations and educational programs will find many funding opportunities consistent with their organization’s mission listed at Once a grant is identified at GrantWatch, your challenge will be to put together a well-conceived proposal that will influence the funding source to pay for your project.

Just about every Request for Proposals will require some form of a statement describing goals and objectives or what you specifically want to accomplish. Most successful nonprofits already have a clear set of goals tied to specific and measurable objectives. Because they provide a foundation for your arguments, goals and objectives are the most critical statements in a winning grant proposal.

Projects generally have one goal or an over-arching broad and visionary statement. The goal of your organization should be worthy and attainable and broadly define what you hope to achieve. Your goal should be hard to measure.

Goal Example:  To reduce the current unmet need of young children accessing high-quality early childhood learning programs.

A goal should not define your strategy. That’s conveyed in the objective, which will list very specific steps for achieving the goal and answer the need for what your organization’s proposal will address. In contrast to goals, an objective should be narrow, precise and measurable.

Objective Example: Increase the availability of high-quality, responsive early childhood and prekindergarten programs available to Rockaway children by purchasing a larger Head Start facility (increasing enrollment from 186 to 600); by establishing and providing Early Head Start home-, center-, family-, and care provider-based programs (program will provide new services to 400 children); by providing ongoing collaborative professional development, peer support, and coaching to community partners, Head Start, prekindergarten, and care providers; and by attracting new high-quality preschool, prekindergarten, and early learning programs into the Rockaway area.

Allow plenty of time to accomplish your objectives, which can be used later to evaluate the success of your program. If there is no way to measure an objective, it should not be written into your proposal.

About the Author: Staff Writer at