Articles and How-to Tutorials for NGOs

Project Objectives

Written by Adel Salah

Project objectives

An objective is a smart and brief sentence that gives the reader an almost complete idea of the reason behind planning the project, the beneficiaries, the targeted groups and their numbers as well as the time period and place of implementing the project. Objectives are the heart of the project and may lead to losing the fund in case they were not properly written.

Objective criteria

Some donors ask for general and specific objectives, others ask for either one or they just ask for project objectives without mentioning what kind of objective they want. So the best way is to make sure all objectives you write in the proposal the objective was general or specific, they should the following four criteria:

1- Smart objective:

SMART objective stands for the following

  • S: Specific

  • M: Measurable, Manageable

  • A: Achievable, Applicable

  • R: Realistic, Reliable, Relevant to the needs of beneficiaries and their problem.

  • Time: Time period for achieving it is stated clearly.

The objective of the project whether general or specific must meet these five criteria, i.e. a specific and measurable objective that can be applicable on the field to meet the needs of the targeted groups and beneficiaries in a specific time. 

2- Starts with words or verbs that show increase or decrease in something.

For example: improve - increase - improve - decrease - reduce - enhance 

3- Answer the question (Why?)

For example: why do we want to implement this project? The answer will be: To improve the access of 500 poor families to sufficient and diversified food in Al-Maharh Governorate during 2018

4- Use the verb in the present tense, not the past or future 

The difference between an objective and activity:

An objective differs from an activity. An activity starts with words or verbs answer the question (What?

For example: what do you do? The answer will be: train – implement – conduct -provide – rehabilitate – operate – repair - raise awareness… etc.

What do you do? Train 20 people to write project proposals for 3 days(activity)

Why do you train? To improve 20 people’s skills to write highly qualified project proposals for 3 days (objective)

The General Objective

The general objective is designed to answer two questions: why was this project planned? Who is the main beneficiary of this project? Typically, only one general objective is written in each proposal to be the exact answer of the main problem of the project. For example:

The main problem: lack of the enrollment of 4,500 children to primary schools in Ar-Rujum district, Al-Mahwit governorate in the school year 2018/2019.

The general objective: To increase the enrollment of 4,500 children to primary schools in Ar-Rujum district, Al-Mahwit governorate in the school year 2018/2019.

The Specific Objectives

These objectives must be (SMART) objectives with the five aforementioned criteria. Specific objectives should not exceed three objectives for the project.

It must be taken into account that the organization will be obliged to fully achieve these objectives either generally or specifically. Therefore, the focus should be placed on writing the specific objectives, namely their achievability and being manageable in time with the budget proposed to the donor.

Objective assessment by the donor 

Examples of correct objectives that fulfill the 4 above objective criteria: the donor will therefore give them 5/5 marks.

1- To increase the access of 10,000 children (boys&girls) to emergency food services in Al-Tuhaita district during the school year 2016.
2- To improve the capacity of 6 health service providers of maternal and child emergency health care services in Al Jawf Governorate in 2017.
3- To increase the access of 300 IDPs to emergency shelter assistance in Maeen district for 12 months.
4- To increase the access of 700 households in Bani Sa’ad district to livelihoods activities by the end of 2019.
5- To raise awareness of 1500 students (girls & boys) on the right ways to deal with strange and explosive objects in Abyan and Thamar areas by the end of July 2018.

Examples of wrong objectives that do not fulfill the 4 above objective criteria: the donor will therefore give them 0/5 marks.

1- Continue of providing health services in Al-Jawf governorate.
2- Referral of 230 GBV survivors to comprehensive protection services within a week.
3- Provide Cash-for-Work assistance to 350 families by the end of 2019.


  • We write one specific objective for each group involved in the problem. If there are two groups involved in the problem, it means the problem will have two specific objectives. 

  • It is preferable not to write more than 3 specific objectives for one project.

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