When it comes to developing your Theory of Change or Impact Measurement approach, one of the barriers to overcome is in learning the overwhelming amount of terminology and language, which surrounds it. From distinguishing the differences between monitoring and evaluation, to understanding the nuances between outcomes and impact, it can be a challenging terrain to navigate. In this article, we will give definitions and examples of outputs, outcomes and impacts, to support you in learning this terminology.
Definition of Outputs with Examples
Examples of Outputs
- Completed workshops
- Emails sent
- Recycling bins installed
- Blankets delivered
Definition of Outcomes with Examples
Examples of Outcomes
- More job interviews attended
- Increase in self-esteem
- More visits with family members
- More items recycled
Definition of Impact with Examples
Examples of Impacts
- Reduction in unemployment in young people within the UK
- Improved quality of life in individuals with learning disabilities
- Slowing of climate change
When developing your Theory of Change, or assessing your impact, it can be challenging to differentiate between the different terms and phrases being used. Outputs are the tangible things your organisation produces or creates e.g. number of workshops you run. Outcomes, on the other hand, are the effect you are trying to create as a result of these outputs e.g. increasing self-esteem in participants. These outcomes are often the journey your beneficiary needs to go on to create long term change. Outcomes should ultimately culminate in your impact. Your impact is the long term goal or objective of your organisation or project e.g. the reduction in unemployment in young people.
Being able to differentiate between these elements within your organisation, will help you identify what you are trying to achieve, what elements you need to measure to assess your performance and, overall, give you the language to be able to communicate the different parts of your organisations effectively.