Writing Objectives: What Will You Do?
Objectives are a running list of activities, projects, seminars, and other events or items you will produce, participate in, and/or use to achieve the goals and outcomes of a project. Objectives must be measurable.
Using the example of a safer-schools program, some objectives might include the following:
At least 80 percent of staff members will attend at least one of three FBI-led seminars focusing on identifying indicators for school violence and possible actions teachers can take.
At least thirty more students than last year will be referred for counseling services because of indicators for violence.
At least fifty students will be trained to perform peer mediation. At least 400 students will participate in peer-mediation services in year one.
Random locker checks will be performed four times during the school year.
The school will rewrite its policies and procedures for dealing with violence on school grounds. New guidelines will be distributed to all students, signed, and returned to homeroom teachers. New guidelines will be mailed to 40,000 households in the school district that receive the district newsletter.
Note how the objectives include numbers so that the organization can quickly assess their progress any time during the project. Clear measures are also important to the grant writer if he or she is to write progress reports to the funder. Unlike outcomes, you must achieve as many of the objectives as possible and to the degree that you state. So while you're writing, be realistic.
Writing objectives is a balancing act. You have to promise to do enough to interest funders, yet not promise too much, setting your organization up for failure. The objectives must also link back to the statement of need or problem and forward to the budget, so that the plan of work makes sense to the proposing organization and its potential funder.
It's nice to promise, for instance, that 100 percent of the teachers will attend a seminar, but it is more likely that at least 10 percent won't. If the teachers are not being reimbursed for their time, you may not be able to expect more than a 50-percent turnout. Discuss these eventualities candidly in your review of the writing to make sure that your client or employer can truly commit to the objectives.