objectives, outputs and activities; outcomes and impact
‘Activities’, ‘outputs’, and ‘objectives’ are what you talk about when you answer questions like ‘What do you do?’ and ‘What does our project provide?’
‘Outcomes’ and ‘impact’ are what you talk about when you answer questions like ‘What are the results of what you do?’ and ‘What difference are we making?’
The areas of activity or overall practical steps a project or organisation plans to accomplish its aims.
Products, services or facilities that result from a project or organisation’s activities. There is no concept of change in an output.
The actions, tasks and work a project or organisation carries out to create its outputs and outcomes, and achieve its aims.
The changes, benefits, learning or other effects that result from what the project or organisation makes, offers or provides.
Broader or longer-term effects of a project’s or organisation’s activities, outputs and outcomes. Also used as a calculation of net benefit once an allowance is made for what would have happened anyway and other factors
Outcomes vs outputs
Many people (including some European funders) confuse the terms ‘outcome’ and ‘output’. They mean different things however.
Outcomes are changes, benefits, learning or other effects that happen as a result of the outputs you put in place. The outputs are services or products, such as publications or training courses.
So there is a crucial distinction: what you achieve for your users (the outcomes); and the services or other interventions intended to bring about those achievements (outputs).
If your aim is to increase the number of young children in your borough that can swim, an output might be a regular swimming class, and an outcome might be an increased number of children able to swim.
Note one: The word does not yet have an agreed meaning even among specialists. We use it here to mean ‘wider and broader effects’, but some people use it simply to mean ‘the results of their work’.