Outcomes and Outputs

Outcomes are the changes that our organisations are trying to achieve — the differences that we aim to make with our services.

People often get confused about the difference between outcomes and outputs. Outcomes are the changes that you are looking to achieve. Outputs are the services, products and activities that your organisation offers to its users.

For example, a local charity might seek to reduce the number of families reaching crisis point.  This is an outcome.  To achieve this outcome, the charity might decide to run a series of parenting classes, and start a drop-in support group.  These are outputs. 

Hard and soft outcomes

Hard outcomes are changes that are clear and obvious, or that involve an external change in people’s behaviour or circumstances.  For example, the number of people who give up smoking for at least six months after finishing a non-smoking group our group ran.

Hard outcomes involve a visible change, and for this reason, can be easier to measure.  For example, it’s relatively simple to record the number of people who achieve an NVQ.

Soft outcomes are the changes that are less easy to observe or measure, or which involve some form of change inside people, such as change in attitude or a change in the way they see themselves (for example, increased self-confidence).

Make sure that you think about how to measure both hard and soft outcomes.  Both are valuable, and worth measuring.

Voluntary Action Westminster is a registered charity (no. 1068824) and is registered as a company in England and Wales with company number 03518124.  Copyright Voluntary Action Westminster 2009

Developed by Third Sector Design