In your second stage application form you are asked to identify what you intend your project outcomes to be (question 22 or E1 on the interactive online form)
If you are successful with your application we will ask you to explain in your final monitoring report whether you were successful in achieving those outcomes.
People often confuse outcomes with outputs and targets. We hope this brief guide explains our definition of outcomes and helps you to fill in the application form.
What are Outcomes?
Outcomes are the changes in the people, organisations, policies or communities your application aims to help that take place as a result of your work.
They can be expected or unexpected, good or bad. We would like you to tell us about them all, so we can learn from them.
How do I choose my project outcomes?
Choosing your project outcomes should be an integral part of your project planning process, rather than something you think about at the last minute because you’ve got to include it in a funding application.
First you need to think about your project’s overall aim. This is the point of your programme. It’s like a mission statement, and should be fairly simple and not contain lots of different ideas.
From this, you should be able to think about a number of different outcomes – specific things you want to have changed by the time the project closes.
Then, you can think about the different tasks or activities or objectives you will carry out to help you make that difference.
To help you do this, you might find it helps to use the planning triangle developed by Charities Evaluation Services.
It might be easier to understand aims, outcomes and activities by looking at a real example:
Kingsbrook young person’s project
To raise the aspirations of young people in Kingsbrook Ward
- Young people are more aware of the options available to them.
- Young people are less likely to be attracted to criminal activity.
- Young people feel more confident about the future.
- Young people are more likely to move on to post-16 education.
- Recruit and train mentors from the business community
- Organise fun day for local young people with representatives from local colleges and training providers
How can I prove that my project has achieved its intended outcomes?
This is something else you will need to think about when you are planning your project. We ask you about it in Question 23 of the application form (E2 of the interactive online form). Some people refer to the things which you can measure to demonstrate whether you have achieved your outcomes as outcome indicators.
Some things are simpler to measure than others, and you need to make sure that you don’t choose outcome indicators which you can’t link directly to your work. For example, if you are running a project which with the aim of raising the aspirations of young people in a particular area, with an outcome of reducing the numbers of young people drawn into criminal activity and you choose the outcome indicator of levels of reported crime and anti-social behaviour, how can you be sure that your project rather than any other initiatives being run locally are responsible for this change?
You should also consider whether your outcomes are measurable. Outcomes relating to a change in people’s attitudes, such as increased confidence, are sometimes called soft outcomes, and will often involve you checking people’s views before and after taking part in your project. There are a number of tools available to help with this sort of measurement.
What about outcomes for capital projects?
Many people who apply for funding for a building or equipment make the mistake of thinking that the existence of their new extension or play equipment is an outcome itself, without thinking about why they need the building or equipment for their community or service users. A facility, product or service is in fact anoutput.
An example of how a capital project might approach outcomes is given below.
A community hall in North Bedfordshire wants to build an extension. They have a limited amount of space, no disabled access, and nowhere for regular users to store equipment.
To provide a much needed community facility that will offer a range of services and provide a venue for community events.
Increased number of groups using the building.
Community hall improves its financial sustainability.
Disabled people can now enter the building independently
Sources of Help
There are numerous free guides to outcomes available. You will find those published by CES (Charities Evaluation Service) www.ces-vol.org.uk and the Big Lottery Fund biglotteryfund.org.uk/project_outcomes.pdf helpful. Community & Voluntary Service (CVS) www.voluntaryworks.org/ sometimes runs training courses on outcomes.