How To Write SMART Goals for a Grant Proposal (With Tips)

If you’ve written a grant proposal in the last 10 years, you’ve probably been asked to write measurable objectives. The easiest and most foolproof way to write them is by using SMART criteria. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Attainable), Relevant (or Realistic), and Time-bound.

Grants are essential to the survival of nonprofit organizations like charities, artistic foundations, and educational initiatives. Identification of the goals and objectives of a particular project that the agency wishes to carry out is a significant component of the grant application process. Grant writers need to be aware of the distinctions between goals and objectives as well as the purposes that each play in the submission process.

Goal statements outline the project’s specific objective and provide information on why it is being done. Goal statements frequently lack depth and have a broad focus. Goal statements provide a general description of the project’s intentions without going into specifics about how the applicant intends to achieve those goals. The best goal statements, however, incorporate some quantifiable elements of what the project manager hopes to achieve as well as a deadline for doing so.

Although it is an admirable goal, “The goal of this program is to feed Houston’s homeless” is a poor illustration of an effective goal statement. A goal statement that works includes dates and measurable amounts to reach the objectives. “The goal of this program is to feed 1,000 of Houston’s homeless three meals per day from September 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014,” would be an improvement on the previous goal statement. “.

The methods the grant applicant will employ to achieve the results outlined in the goal statements are described in the objectives. Goal statements are frequently broad and abstract, whereas objectives are specific and concrete. Measurement criteria that demonstrate how the goals will be attained are also included in objectives. Effective objective statements must adhere to a number of requirements, just like goals. The acronym SMART serves as a reminder of the characteristics of effective objective statements, which must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-limited.

In the aforementioned instance, the objective is to start September 1 by feeding 1,000 homeless Houstonians three meals a day. This goal can have the following objectives: “Identify five locations that provide free or discounted food by August 15,” “Sign up 50 volunteers to prepare and serve meals by August 10,” “Contact three homeless shelters to begin outreach programs by August 1,” and “Secure four locations close to the locations where the homeless congregate for meal preparation and service by July 15.”

Connecting Project Goals, SMART Objectives, and Grant Research Keywords ft. Dr. Bev Browning

Benefits of writing SMART goals for grants

The following are some advantages of including SMART goals in your grant proposal:

Provides direction

Implementing the SMART acronym into your goal-writing can provide direction. Goals should be carefully crafted with relevant, measurable, and specific information to ensure strong outcomes and actionable tasks for your organization. This sense of direction might help your organization use grant money more successfully.

Clarifies ideas

The SMART goals’ specificity can aid in the clarification of your ideas for the grant proposal. If you set goals with that many useful details, you can express your project ideas in detail. Clarity improvements might make it easier for the funder to understand your goals, which might increase your chances of getting the grant.

Prompts action

SMART goals have a variety of components that can cooperate to inspire action. Your team may be more motivated to work toward various goals since SMART goals call for measurement and specify a timeframe. Another way that SMART goals can benefit your organization is by inspiring action. Your organization can move closer to completing the project described in your proposal as you complete the tasks outlined in your goals and objectives section.

How to write SMART goals for a grant proposal

A comprehensive document sent to potential funders is a grant proposal. In a proposal, the applying organization’s mission, target audience, and an explanation of the organization’s need for funding are typically included. A goals and objectives section, which provides information about the outcomes the organization hopes to achieve after receiving the grant funds, is another component of grant proposals. Including SMART goals in your goals and objectives section is one effective strategy. To learn how to write SMART goals for a grant proposal, think about doing the following:

1. Understand the SMART acronym

To ensure that you set goals that are effective, it is best to understand the SMART acronym before writing this section of the grant proposal. SMART is an acronym created specifically to design achievable goals. It stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. The meaning of SMART goals is as follows:

2. Create goals and objectives

It’s crucial to include goals and objectives in this section of your grant proposal so that the funder can understand your plans more clearly. Goals represent large-scale, generic or long-term outcomes. The accomplishment of objectives can be seen as concrete, small-scale actions that support the achievement of the larger goal. Consider, for instance, that one of your organization’s objectives is to reduce the level of poverty in your county. You can use this goal statement as a template to help you come up with SMART goals. Each objective may show various actions your organization plans to take to accomplish your major objective.

3. Focus on outcomes

Consider focusing on the results you want rather than your organization’s processes when creating goals and objectives. Instead of detailing how you intend to carry out specific tasks, this section can make the desired results abundantly clear. You can direct this process by creating goals and objectives that directly relate to the proposal’s central mission using the SMART acronym. SMART objectives that concentrate on outcomes may be more persuasive to the funder. This emphasis can convey the potential effects that the donors’ money may have on your target market.

4. Name the target audience

It’s likely that you’ve been describing the effect you hope to have on a target audience throughout the grant. It’s crucial to continue outlining the concrete ways that the goals will assist or benefit that population when formulating SMART goals. Naming the target audience that benefits from each goal as part of developing specific and pertinent goals is one way to follow the acronym. It can also assist the funder in determining who gains from each goal and objective.

5. Create methods for each goal

If you write your goals using the SMART acronym, it’s crucial to make sure you can accurately measure each one. Try to rewrite or reframe the objective if you discover that a goal is not measurable. It is best to choose your measurement techniques before submitting the grant proposal. You could add a sentence or two describing how you intend to evaluate each objective. This can demonstrate to the funder that your process is transparent while keeping the end results as your main priority.

6. Remember the mission

Your grant proposal’s goals and objectives section is merely a portion of the whole document. It’s crucial that you identify in the goals section how you intend to actively realize the vision that your organization set out to realize. You can show coherence and commitment to your overarching, long-term, and organizational goals by relating each goal back to the organization’s mission. Additionally, demonstrating the connection between the objectives and the funding request by connecting each goal to the specific justification for your request for funding

Tips for writing SMART goals for grant proposals

As you create SMART goals for a grant proposal, take into account the following advice:

Budget for goal evaluation

It is advisable to budget for the cost of evaluating your goals as you continue to write your grant proposal. You might have to pay for particular tools or software to measure your objectives depending on your evaluation techniques. By including this in the budget, you could show the funder that you have an eye for detail.

Allow enough time to complete each goal

Allow enough time to complete each goal when setting time-bound objectives. As stated in the SMART acronym, attainable time-bound goals perform best. Try to select a deadline that is appropriate for your project, your target audience, and your organization.

Include all relevant groups or populations

Specificity about groups and populations should be considered when formulating goals and objectives using the SMART acronym. This is because it’s common for the funder to be aware of the precise target audience that the grant money can benefit. It can also assist you in keeping track of which objectives relate to different segments of your target audience.


How do you write a SMART goal for a grant?

How to write SMART goals for a grant proposal
  1. Understand the SMART acronym. …
  2. Create goals and objectives. …
  3. Focus on outcomes. …
  4. Name the target audience. …
  5. Create methods for each goal. …
  6. Remember the mission.

What are good examples of smart goals?

SMART Goal Example:
  • Specific: I’m going to write a 60,000-word sci-fi novel.
  • Measurable: I will finish writing 60,000 words in 6 months.
  • Achievable: I will write 2,500 words per week.
  • Relevant: I’ve always dreamed of becoming a professional writer.

How do you write a grant goal and objective?

How to Write Goals and Objectives for Grant Proposals
  1. State your objectives in quantifiable terms.
  2. State your objectives in terms of outcomes, not process.
  3. Objectives should specify the result of an activity.
  4. Objectives should identify the target audience or community being served.

What are the 5 smart goals?

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound are the acronyms for SMART goals.

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