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What is the difference between outputs and outcomes?

Outputs are the products, services or facilities that result from an organisation's or project's activities.

Outputs can include services you offer, products you sell or give away (for example, booklets), and facilities you provide. They are what you 'put out' as a result of your activity. The people you help may use these outputs to achieve changes they want to achieve for themselves.

Outputs are not the benefits or changes you achieve for your users, they are the interventions you make to bring about those achievements. For example, outputs might include:

  • The reading courses we offer.
  • A session in a reading course that we offer.

Outputs relate to objectives. Objectives are the planned areas of activity through which you intend to achieve your aims. Outputs are specific services and products you offer to carry out those objectives. For example:

Objective: to provide one-to-one reading support.
Outputs: 30 one-to-one reading courses of 10 sessions each.

We can describe outputs in detail as well as provide figures for them.

Each reading course consists of a series of reading tasks of progressively greater difficulty, length or complication. A qualified teacher tutors each class and tests that clients successfully complete each task.

As described on the pages understanding outcomes and their importance, outcomes are the changes, benefits, learning or other effects that happen as a result of what the project or organisation offers or provides. So in this examples, the outcomes might be:

People who attend our reading courses:

  • Are more confident reading
  • Read better
  • Read outside our classes well enough to have independent lives
  • Have improved self-confidence all round.

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