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How to Create Goals and Outcomes for a grant

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Creating goals, objectives, and key performance indicators for grant programs is a little bit of the Goldilocks scenario. The number you commit to has to be just right- what can be reasonably achieved with funding versus what is going to be competitive when compared to the other grant applications. Many nonprofits let the fear of missing targets and benchmarks influence their chances of getting a grant by going so low that the grant funds don't seem "worth it" to the funder, or they go so high the grant outcomes seem very unlikely with the requested funding. I have a simple solution to this problem, let me break it down for you.

How do you create goals and outcomes that are 'just right'?

In my opinion, the key to the "M" and "A" in S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals is to create "robust" key performance indicators. Robust goals are not too low, not too high, and achievable at full funding. For example, if your organization normally serves 200 people a year with $200,000, it can be assumed an additional $50,000 can serve 50 more people. There may be times when an additional $50,000 will serve the same or less people. Like in situations where your organization is providing more intensive services, like those associated with wraparound supports or case management. The key is to explain why your organization has selected the outcome, and then try to identify efficiencies that could make the program run better and challenges that may impact program performance. Include those factors into your decision.

How do you figure out the Goldilock's number?

I like to investigate what the organization has the resources to do before grant funds with questions like, "how many people do you serve now, without the funding?".

Then, we think about how the increase in funds will build capacity with questions like," How many people could you serve with full funding, or how would service improve or become quicker with this funding".

AND THEN, we do a bit of competitive research to see what has been funded in the past, and consider " How is your program similar to this, and how is your program unique?" I also recommend that organization's review best practices. For example, if your state provides $2,000 per patient for mental health services, but your program costs $5,000 per person you will need to explain the differences and benefits.

Using all of that information we can come up with the "just right/ Goldilocks" number.

In the end, there are a number of factors to consider when creating measurable and achievable goals and objectives such as organizational capacity, competition, and industry norms and best practices. Thoughtfully consider all of these things when creating goals and outcomes for a grant funded program, and always aim to go a little higher than you are doing right now.

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