Glossary of Grant Terms

Term Defnition
Activity An activity is an action taken to produce a specific output over a period . Each activity should be aligned to only one output and its associated outcome and objective.
Assumptions Factors assumed for the success of the activities, outputs, and outcomes. These are hypotheses that are accepted as truths at the start of a project or program, but may turn out to be false.
Audience The specific group of people that you want to reach .
Baseline The status of services and outcome-related measures of knowledge, attitudes, norms, behaviors, and conditions before a project begins. Baselines provide a measure against which project or program progress can be assessed.
Beneficiaries The individuals, groups, or organizations that benefit from a project, program, or process. These will often be participants in the project.
Budget The financial plan for the Federal award that the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity approves during the Federal award process or in subsequent amendments to the Federal award. It may include the Federal and non-Federal share or only the Federal share, as determined by the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity.
Contextual Assumption Those factors directly pertinent to the project that must remain the same for the project’s logic to remain valid.
Cooperative Agreement Means the use of audit follow-up techniques which promote prompt corrective action by improving communication, fostering collaboration, promoting trust, and developing an understanding between the Federal agency and the non-Federal entity. This approach is based upon:

  1. A strong commitment by Federal agency and non-Federal entity leadership to program integrity;
  2. Federal agencies strengthening partnerships and working cooperatively with non-Federal entities and their auditors; and non-Federal entities and their auditors working cooperatively with Federal agencies;
  3. A focus on current conditions and corrective action going forward;
  4. Federal agencies offering appropriate relief for past noncompliance when audits show prompt corrective action has occurred; and
  5. Federal agency leadership sending a clear message that continued failure to correct conditions identified by audits which are likely to cause improper payments, fraud, waste, or abuse is unacceptable and will result in sanctions.
Cost-Sharing or matching The portion of project costs not paid by Federal funds or contributions
Data Quantitative or qualitative information used to measure indicators, project activities (such as surveys), and project outcomes.
Disallowed Costs means those charges to a Federal award that the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity determines to be unallowable, in accordance with the applicable Federal statutes, regulations, or the terms and conditions of the Federal award.
Evaluation The systematic collection and analysis of information about the characteristics and outcomes of programs, projects, and processes as a basis for judgments, to improve effectiveness, and/or inform decision-makers about current and future activities. Evaluation focuses on why changes did or did not occur, as well as question of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, and impact.
Expenditures Means charges made by a non-Federal entity to a project or program for which a Federal award was received.
Federal Financial Assistance Assistance that non-Federal entities receive or administer in the form of:

  1. Grants;
  2. Cooperative agreements;
  3. Non-cash contributions or donations of property (including donated surplus property);
  4. Direct appropriations;
  5. Food commodities; and
  6. Other financial assistance (except assistance listed in paragraph (2) of this definition).
Federal Share The portion of the Federal award costs that are paid using U.S. Government fund.
Fixed Amount Awards Means a type of grant or cooperative agreement under which the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity provides a specific level of support without regard to actual costs incurred under the Federal award. This type of Federal award reduces some of the administrative burden and record-keeping requirements for both the non-Federal entity and Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity. Accountability is based primarily on performance and results. See §§ 200.102(c), 200.201(b), and 200.333.
Foreign Organization An entity that is:

  1. A public or private organization located in a country other than the United States and its territories that is subject to the laws of the country in which it is located, irrespective of the citizenship of project staff or place of performance;
  2. A private nongovernmental organization located in a country other than the United States that solicits and receives cash contributions from the general public;
  3. A charitable organization located in a country other than the United States that is nonprofit and tax exempt under the laws of its country of domicile and operation, and is not a university, college, accredited degree-granting institution of education, private foundation, hospital, organization engaged exclusively in research or scientific activities, church, synagogue, mosque or other similar entities organized primarily for religious purposes; or
  4. An organization located in a country other than the United States not recognized as a foreign public entity.
Foreign Public Entity
  1. A foreign government or foreign governmental entity;
  2. A public international organization, which is an organization entitled to enjoy privileges, exemptions, and immunities as an international organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288–288f);
  3. An entity owned (in whole or in part) or controlled by a foreign government; or
  4. Any other entity consisting wholly or partially of one or more foreign governments or foreign governmental entities.
Grant Agreement Means a legal instrument of financial assistance between a Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity and a non-Federal entity that, consistent with 31 U.S.C. 6302, 6304:

  1. Is used to enter into a relationship the principal purpose of which is to transfer anything of value to carry out a public purpose authorized by a law of the United States (see 31 U.S.C. 6101(3)); and not to acquire property or services for the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity’s direct benefit or use;
  2. Is distinguished from a cooperative agreement in that it does not provide for substantial involvement of the Federal awarding agency in carrying out the activity contemplated by the Federal award.
  3. Does not include an agreement that provides only:
    1. Direct United States Government cash assistance to an individual;
    2. A subsidy;
    3. A loan;
    4. A loan guarantee; or
    5. Insurance.
Impact A result or effect that is caused by or attributable to a program, project, process, or policy. Impact is often used to refer to higher-level effects that occur in the medium or long term and can be intended or unintended and positive or negative.
Indicator A qualitative or quantitative variable that provides a valid and reliable metric of if the project or program achieved the expected objective, outcome, or output and is used to measure actual results against expected results. This should be a clearly defined, observable, measurable, and verifiable.
Logical Framework What drives planning, monitoring, and evaluation, which makes it one of the most important documents in this project’s lifetime. The logical framework outlines the logic of the project’s theory of change, or your hypothesis of how your project activities will cause a desired change in the environment or target audience.
Method The means of acquiring data for an indicator, such as key informant interviews, surveys, focus groups, content analysis, expert panels, direct observation, etc.
Monitoring The collection of real-time information on context, implementation, and results to assess progress against established objectives and to inform programmatic decisions.
Objective The changes a program, project, or process seeks to achieve within the project’s period of performance. Like outcomes, objectives are usually envisioned in chains of early, middle, and high-level desired changes. Objectives should be SMART (see definition below).
Outcome The result, change, or effect that is caused by or attributable to project activities implemented and their outputs. Outcomes describe the changes in participants’ knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that are necessary preconditions for the objective to be realized. Each objective listed will have its own unique outcomes that are required to achieve the objective. Therefore, all outcomes must align logically to the objective they are meant to help achieve. Outcomes should be SMART (see definition below).
Output A short-term, immediate results of the program, project, or process that leads to longer-term outcomes. Outputs are the products, goods, or services which results from conducting activities and are typically things that can be counted, such as reports, workshops, and campaign plans. There can only be one output that results from one or more activities.
Performance Goal Means a target level of performance expressed as a tangible, measurable objective, against which actual achievement can be compared, including a goal expressed as a quantitative standard, value, or rate. In some instances (e.g., discretionary research awards), this may be limited to the requirement to submit technical performance reports (to be evaluated in accordance with agency policy).
Performance Standard An articulation of what constitutes quality work by those implementing the activity.
Period of Performance The total estimated time interval between the start of an initial Federal award and the planned end date, which may include one or more funded portions, or budget periods.
Recipient Means an entity, usually but not limited to non-Federal entities that receives a Federal award directly from a Federal awarding agency. The term recipient does not include subrecipients or individuals that are beneficiaries of the award.
Results Includes the outputs, outcomes, and impact of your project. Any product or change that occurs due to project activities.
Results Chain The part of your logical framework that outlines the project’s objectives; the outcomes as the changes that must occur for the objective to be achieved; the outputs, or what needs to be created or completed to cause the outcomes to occur; and the activities, or what you plan to do over a period to create the respective outputs.
Risk The potential that project or program events will not occur as was assumed which may be an impediment to the success of the project or program. Known risks are those that can be identified at the start of the project or program and mitigated. Unknown risks are those that are not foreseen
SMART (indicators, outcomes, objectives) Specific – there is a clear degree of change intended to occur within a stated population.

  • Measurable – there is only one change in the indicator, and it is feasible to collect data on this factor in a reasonable amount of time and in a cost-effective manner.
  • Accurate – the indicator is a direct signal of the change, which is often context-specific.
  • Reliable – different people would all be able to draw a similar conclusion through data collection and/or interpretation of the indicator’s language (do not provide jargon without definitions).
  • Time-Bound – the indicator includes a specific timeframe.
Target The amount of change expected within a specific timeframe. Targets are usually applied to indicators and are a benchmark of what the project hopes to achieve.
Target Audience The specific group which a project or intervention seeks to affect in order to change the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of the group. The better defined a target audience is, the more likely the project is to accomplish its objectives.
Theory of Change (TOC) The hypothesis of how your project activities will cause a desired change in the environment or target audience. The TOC contains the casual and contextual assumptions on which the project’s logic rests. The TOC should draw on current knowledge about how such changes unfold, adapted to the project context. The hypothesis and the assumptions you make in your project’s design need to be tested throughout the life of the award to ensure the project is having the desired effect.