While confusing objectives and activities at first glance may seem unlikely, it is in fact very common in proposals and the leading cause of Doing-Without-Achieving Syndrome. If your project objectives and project activities sound too similar, then you may be falling in this trap.
Project objectives are the specific achievements which the project aims to complete.
Project activities are actions undertaken by the project to achieve the set objectives.
It is an easy mistake to confuse what you do with what you are trying to accomplish. Remember, completion of the project is not the goal in and of itself; the purpose of the project is to create a change in the community. Your activities are the actions you will take, and the objectives are why you took those actions in the first place.
Activities should be based on the objectives, so there will be some overlap. Additionally, both objectives and activities need to be specific and follow SMART guidelines, which can lead to further similarities. However, a clear distinction must be made, otherwise, your monitoring and evaluation plan will be set up to review the wrong measures and you will not be able to see your impact.
For example, if your goal is to “raise awareness of human rights issues in your community”, your objective cannot be “to bring 20 community leaders together in a 2-day human rights training workshop”. This is an activity, and measuring this activity only proves that you completed the activity; it does not prove that this activity made any progress towards accomplishing your goal.
A better objective for this activity may be “gain 20 new leaders willing to be human rights advocates.” With this objective, you can count how many advocates there were before your project and show how that number increased after your project to prove your impact.