Am I Grant Ready? – Part 2 – Connecting the Dots

At Areeva, we are fortunate to have a diverse team of experts from various backgrounds that have played leadership roles in serving the grantee and grantor communities. Today we share some more insights and tips from one of our leaders…

Most experts agree, that developing strong goals, objectives, and outcomes is critical to the overall success of a grant application. However, the process that an organization goes about to develop those outcomes varies greatly. Over the years, many organizations have submitted grants that have not been funded, not because their program wasn’t a good one, but because the organization did not develop a coordinated process for writing their proposal.

TIP – ‘T’ is for TEAM

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself” (Henry Ford). It is important to remember that grant writing is a TEAM effort that starts in the early planning stages and continues through the grant submission.

Team grant writing does not mean that each agency department writes a different section of the grant and then one person cuts and pastes the sections together. This method often leads to a grant proposal that is disconnected, hard to follow, and not likely to receive an award.

Instead, think of it like a team sport. There is a head coach, the grant writer, who recruits a group of people with a specific set of skills, such as executive leadership, program staff, and other key stakeholders. This team meets regularly to create a cohesive proposal that is clear and has obtainable goals, interventions, and outcomes. This method, once funded, results in greater buy-in from program staff and a more successful intervention that often leads to additional grant funding in the future.


According to Emory Prevention Research Center, one of the top reasons grant proposals fail is that the applicant did not use clear measurable goals and objectives that connect to the funder/grantor’s goals and mission. Understanding the difference between goals, objectives, and activities and connecting them so that they flow between each other and make sense to anyone reading it is essential to a successful grant proposal.

Goal: A goal is a broad statement about the overall purpose of the proposed project. When grant reviewers read an application, they will want to clearly understand what makes the project unique and achievable. The goal should answer the question “what is the point of this program and how does it solve the identified problem?” It is generally one sentence and uses words such as decrease, delivers, develop, establish, improve, increase, produce, or provide (National Rural Health Resource Center).

Objectives: Objectives can be referred to as the “heart” of the proposal. They are what will be done to achieve the program’s goal. Objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

A common mistake is to confuse activities with objectives. It is important to remember that objectives are written to explain what the target population will accomplish and activities are written to explain how the applicant will accomplish each objective (National Rural Health Resource Center). Approximately 3-6 objectives that relate directly to the goal are ideal because too many objectives may make it difficult for a grant reviewer to track (Emory Prevention Research Center).

Action Plan: Action or Work Plan is the roadmap a program uses to accomplish its goals and objectives. It lays out specifically what activities will be done by outlining the steps the program will take to achieve its goals and objectives, the person(s) responsible, and the projected completion dates (ECLKC).  The plan may also include such things as best practices, established standards, how progress will be measured, financial support, and resources needed. For grant reviewers, the action plan is important so they can fully understand the applicant’s logic in how it is going to effectively spend grant funds to meet the need stated in the proposal. It is important to make sure that all activities relate back to the program’s goals and objectives and that each goal and objective relate back to the notice of funding (Emory Prevention Research Center).

It is important to go back to the objective, or action plan should from the TEAM including
and key stakeholders. These responsible for implementation, ultimately, ensuring the success
first tip in this article. No goal, be written without the buy-in leadership, the program staff, are the people that will be
data collection, reporting, and, of the grant.

Example (ECLKC)

Children will demonstrate an understanding of, as well as use, a variety of words in English and Spanish to communicate their ideas, feelings, and questions. Connects to P-LC6 and P-LC7 in the ELOF Language and Communication domain.

To strengthen the ability of teachers and parents to improve the vocabulary of enrolled preschool children in their home language (Spanish) and English as measured by improved scores on child assessment measures. Mean scores will improve by 50 percent by the end of the program year.

Action Plan

Program Activities/Strategies Person(s) Responsible Timeline Financial Supports Data, Tools, or Methods for Tracking Progress
Establish a year-long professional development plan focused on vocabulary, integrating English and Spanish in play, routines, and learning activities. Education manager and coach August




Secure T/TA funds to support the professional development plan

Budget for new language curriculum supplement

Scores on child assessment measures


Additional Resource:

SAMHSA’s Whitepaper ‘Developing a Competitive SAMHSA Grant Application’

This resource provides useful information related to writing a grant application, it also provides critiques of applicants’ responses (pg. 32) breaking down a response and pointing out its weaknesses.