grant writing smart objectives

How to write SMART objectives in your grants

In grant writing, we hear a lot about objectives, goals, outcomes, outputs, evaluations, measurables, logic models…phew! The evaluation aspect of your proposal is often the most intimidating, in part because of all that jargon. It’s even tougher if you’re writing a federal grant or a very sophisticated foundation grant that asks for SMART objectives.


Acronyms and jargon can make any application intimidating, but once you have an understanding of SMART objectives, you’ll find it fairly easy to comply with.


SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Your objectives will be so much stronger if you abide by this objective. Some applications require SMART objectives. But you can strengthen even the ones that don’t if you use this rule of thumb when you’re writing.


Let’s break this down a bit more:


Specific: Your SMART objective should be targeted rather than generalized. Don’t be ambiguous.


Measurable: Make sure you are able to quantify the change you want to see in the specific group of people you’re targeting.


Attainable: Don’t reach for the stars or promise too much. You want to actually be able to achieve what you set out to do.


Relevant: Is this relevant to  your mission, to the problems facing the world? Does it make sense in the context of your proposal, or is it a random activity not tied to reality?


Time-bound: Your objective should have a due date, outlining not only what you hope to accomplish, but the time frame in which you are adhering to.


Need more help writing your goals and objectives? Check out our post on evaluation basics. And find three examples of SMART objectives here.


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