Skip to content

Advice team’s guide to… outcomes

8 February 2016

One of the key areas to get right in your application will be to make sure that your outcomes are clear, specific and realistic.

Below is a guide to outcomes and how not to get them mixed up with your project’s activities or the goals of the funding programme to which you are applying.

When we refer to outcomes we are simply asking you to tell us the difference you want to make through your project and its activities. It is the social changes that will occur as a result of your project.


The language maze

Outcomes can often get confused with outputs.

Outputs – highlight what the project is doing, not the difference the project is making. An output is a product, service or facility that results from a project or organisation’s main activities.

An example of an output would be:

Young people with learning disabilities will take part in arts and crafts workshops

This is a statement informing us what activities the beneficiaries will do.

The outcome of such activity could be:

Aims, Outcomes, Activities triangle imageYoung people with learning difficulties will have improved social inclusion, as a result of participating in community workshops.

It’s good practice once you have written your outcomes to ask yourself whether they show the difference (underlined in the example above) the project is making (an outcome) or whether they are telling us what the project is doing (an output). If you cannot identify the specific difference then this should not be included as an outcome.

The Reaching Communities application does allow you to expand on or describe in more detail what you mean by your outcomes if you feel you cannot explain thoroughly the difference within the outcome fields.

We hope that our simple guide to some do’s and don’ts with regard to outcomes below, will be helpful for next time you are filling in an application form for funding.


Make a clear link between the issues faced by your beneficiaries, such as isolation or poor health, and your project outcomes, which might be reducing isolation or improving health and wellbeing.

Make sure your outcomes are realistic and not too ambitious.

  • They need to be achieved by the end of the project. Promising that ex-offenders will be in employment by the end of the project is a fantastic idea, but is it likely? It is better to state that ex-offenders will have increased employability skills and feel more confident about future employment and accessing the working environment, this would be more realistic and achievable.
  • The more specific your outcomes are, the better.Black woman sitting legs crossed in art studio, smiling

Focus on the difference you want to make, for example, if an issue is poor health the outcome, however it is phrased, could include ‘improved physical health’ or if an issue is lack of confidence and self-esteem, an outcome could be ‘increased confidence and self-esteem’. Remember to include change words like improved, reduced, maintained, etc. and then the specific tangible difference to your beneficiaries whether that is improving health, reducing isolation, maintaining independent living or increasing confidence and self-esteem.

Make sure you tell us about the project outcomes rather than the project outputs.


Don’t list Big Lottery Fund programme outcomes as your project’s outcomes.
For example: People will have better chances in life. This is a broad statement and doesn’t tell us clearly what these better chances will be. Based on the initial challenges faced by your beneficiaries, improved life chances could include:

  • improved mental health
  • skills development,
  • financial awareness, restoring personal independence

Don’t get your outcomes confused with

  • your project’s activities
  • the overall aim of your project or
  • your organisation’s objectives

Don’t repeat the same outcome using different words. For example, young people and adults affected by substance misuse will have improved family relationships. Young people and adults have better relations with their family due to reduced substance misuse.

There’s more detail about outcomes and aims on the Big Lottery Fund website.

You can find out more about our Advice teams, from our help and support page.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: