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Grant Applications Goals Vs. Objectives

Grant applications have many components, and sometimes it can get a little overwhelming thinking about how to correctly address each section effectively. The “goal” and “objective” portions of grant applications tend to be the most confusing for individuals new to grant writing. It’s important to be able to distinguish the two, at the same time understand how they are interconnected and support one another.

When you are applying for any grant, you will be asked to describe your goals. It goes without saying that your goals are what you hope to accomplish with the grant money. If you are applying for project funding, for example, your goals will describe the broad, over-arching impact of the project. Examples of project-based goals could be: increase access to healthy, locally grown produce for lower-income families in Vancouver, BC; increase awareness of youth drop-in centres in Montreal’s Ville-Marie borough.

Obviously, your goals are going to be a focus point for your donors and how donors assess the degree of compatibility with your organization and need. Therefore, it is very important that your goals are clear and speak to the need or ask you are describing. Alternatively, your objectives should be highlighting how the goal targets will be met.

Objectives are describing your goals in very clear, quantifiable and concrete terms. Objectives contain measurable criteria, target demographics and corresponding activities that explain how your overarching goal will be achieved.


“Provide 300 families with access to fresh, locally grown produce in Vancouver, BC during the summer season (June-September)”.

– Partner with 5 food bank locations in Vancouver, BC to dispense produce to families.
– Identify four local produce farms that offer free or discounted food by (date).
– Sign up 20 volunteers to support transportation and delivery system needs.

If you’ve done any work on grant applications or program management, you’ve likely heard of SMART goals. Both goals and objectives can be created by using the acronym S.M.A.R.T.

S- Specific (Narrow down the various pieces of your goal, thinking about Who, What, Where, and How).
M- Measurable (Quantify your goal as much as possible… how will you know when your goal is accomplished? Explain how you will be gauging the impact of your goal and measuring success)
A- Achievable (Is your goal realistic? Do you have the resources and personnel available to achieve your goal?)
R- Relevant (Is your goal relevant? Are you the best organization/individual to be leading the project? Is it worthwhile?)
T- Time Bound (What is your target-date? Can you accomplish your objectives in a reasonable amount of time?)

SMART goals can be helpful as you go about putting the pieces together of what you are hoping to accomplish; it’s important to be as careful and calculated as possible when finishing a grant application as these are the main areas of evaluation that any donor will examine.

Once you have your major goals sorted out, the objectives are there to support the direction and steps you will take to accomplish. Remember that potential funders will more than likely be tallying your application based on very specific criteria. Using the SMART goal system just ensures that you can illustrate how thought-through and mindful your goals actually are.

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