In many ways, your objectives or Specific Aims (using NIH terminology) are the most important portion of your proposal. They allow the reviewer to see, in a brief overview, exactly the work you propose to undertake.
The Aims and Objectives might be a separate document or they might be a portion of the longer research plan. You should format them however—and precisely as—the sponsor specifies. Typically, though, they are organized as follows:
One way to develop this section is with four distinct paragraphs:
1. Introductory Paragraph
2. The W’s Paragraph—who, what, when, and where
3. Getting Down to Business
Briefly detail the smaller aims that will allow you to test your central hypothesis. If possible, cite primary and secondary measures. These aims should be supportive of each other but not entirely inter-dependent. If one fails early on, you do not want your entire project to fail. There should still be something you can pull from the research.
4. The Payoff
The Foundation Center describes the following 4 types of objectives:
Additional descriptions and examples are available on the Foundation Center website.