Objectives versus Activities

In my online grants class, students often get confused between objectives—what we are trying to accomplish—and activities—the way (how) we will accomplish our objectives.  It’s an important difference, and has huge implications for things like evaluation plans (how we assess our successes).  It also impacts what we are telling our potential funders about the issue or problem we are addressing. If my objective is to have 7 workshops in 18 months where 300 women will learn about office skills my focus is very different than if I want to provide 300 women who are stuck in a cycle of poverty to break that cycle and move into a stronger financial situation. 

In one, I am filling a classroom;  in the other I am changing the dynamic of a community.

Likewise, if I describe the work of my organization by telling people about our specific programs, in addition to causing many eyes to glaze over, I may just be convincing my prospects to think small because we think small.

As that old saying goes, “shoot for the moon because if you miss you still land among the stars.”

Thinking big(ger) starts by considering what you could change.  You could teach a class in nutrition or you could create an awareness of what a healthy community is.  One is narrow; the other broad.  This is not to say that how you are going to reach your objectives is not important.  Of course it is.  But it is not the stuff of dreams.

Dreams are when you think of all the possibilities.  When you imagine a world that is so much more than our world today.

And dreams are the way get your donors and funders thinking about what they can accomplish and what they can help you to do.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them turn their dreams into reality.  Learn more at www.janetlevineconsulting.com.  While there, sign up for the newsletter and do contact Janet for a free, 30-minute consultation.