I’ve developed a picture that we use in our training to help everyone understand goals, objectives, methods or activities, and outcomes. Imagine constructing a building and here’s how that project is related:
Goal: Picture the building. What does it look like? Where is it located? What is the reason for building it? Here’s an example, “To support improvement in a neighborhood undergoing redevelopment.” This is the goal. In program development and in a grant application the goal is a broad statement, the one that is the driving force for everything you do. For your grant application, there should only be one goal statement.
Objectives: When planning our building, we create a project timeline with benchmarks to achieve along the way. In program planning and grant development, these are the objectives. They are specific, time limited, measurable, and achievable statements of purpose to guide you toward reaching the goal. For our building, an objective might be “By October 30, 2012 the foundation will be completed.” There may be several objectives for each goal.
Methods or Activities: Notice that the Objectives can be specific and yet broad. That is because the methods or activities are those building blocks that support the objectives. In the case of our building, activities to support the objective named above could be (1) Dig the hole for the foundation; (2) lay the frame and rebar to support the foundation; and (3) pour the concrete. There are usually numerous activities to support each objective.
Outcomes: These are the expected results of the endeavor or program. Once the building is completed, an expected outcome could be “New business attracted to the community” or “Non-profits organizations providing community services in the building for the area residents.” The outcomes are what effect will occur during the grant period as a result of the proposed activities.