Department of Nutrition

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The Grant Game: Objectives

Since we are dealing with the proposal sections in the order they appear in a proposal, let’s talk about the next main section of a plan … the Objectives section! Remember the six parts of a proposal:

  1. Mission statement
  2. Assessment
  3. Problem statement
  4. Objectives
  5. Methodology
  6. Evaluation

After you have stated your agency’s Mission, Assessed need, and Stated the Problem, you are ready to write the fourth part of the proposal, or the Objectives. In this section you will learn what an Objective is, its characteristics, and how to determine how many your proposal should have.

An Objective is a statement of a specific outcome related to a problem you identified. An objective is NOT a statement of what you are going to do! It is a measurable statement of what you will end up with. For example, if you want 100% of the potential clients in your region to be able to access the specified service, your objective should read:

At the end of the 2001-02 fiscal year, 100% of the potential clients in Region XX will be able to access the specified service through a program enacted by the Region XX Agency Service Program staff.

An ideal objective statement will address five basic questions:

  1. Who: Potential clients and agency service program staff in Region XX
  2. When: By the end of the 2001-02 fiscal year
  3. What: Will be able to access the specified service
  4. To what extent: 100% of the potential clients
  5. How: Through Agency Service Program

You want to make sure that the objective you write is tied directly to the problems you’ve identified. And you want to make sure the problems you identified are tied directly to your Mission Statement. To do this, check backwards from your Objectives to the Problem Statement to the Mission Statement. Objectives should relate to the Problems you identified. Your Mission Statement legitimizes your right to be concerned about the Problems.

You may now ask, “What if I have more than one objective?” That’s O K . In fact, try to have more than a couple of objectives. The rule is: Take on only as much as you can handle. Choose only the number of objectives you are certain you can meet. If you choose only objectives you can meet, it is logical to also choose a problem with which you can deal.

You now may ask, “What if the problem is enormous?” Then “Swiss Cheese” it! In other words, nibble away at the problem in little bits that you CAN do something about. So, consider the problem that there are 50,000 potential clients in Region XX who have no specified service information. If your objective is that all 50,000 can access the specified service following completion of your agency service program, you will surely fail. But, what if you decided to tackle only the 5,000 (10%) you know would be more amenable to your program? You would be assured of success!!! A better objective, therefore is: At the end of the 1998-99 fiscal year 10% of the potential clients in Region XX will be able to access the specified service through a program enacted by the Region XX Agency Service Program staff. Then in another year, “bite off” another chunk of the problem!

To Recap . . .

Objectives should derive logically from your Statement of the Problem and should be tied to your agency’s Mission. Objectives should be outcome driven — telling what you’ll end up with. They should answer five questions:

  1. Who will do it?
  2. What will they do?
  3. When will it be done?
  4. To what extent will it be done?
  5. How will they do it?

There’s a sixth question, but it is covered by your Evaluation: How well did you do it? Does it measure up?

An Objective is a specific outcome that should result from the project. It is measurable and related to the problem statement. A good objective is one that answers the basic questions related to “who,” “what,” “how,” “when,” and “to what extent.” The number of objectives in a proposal is determined by need and how much your agency can legitimately handle. We will cover the Evaluation section after we talk about the Methodology.


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number T79MC09805, Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Health Nutrition, $223,929, 50% funded by the University of Tennessee, Department of Nutrition. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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