It is vital that the outcomes you want to achieve are identified during the planning stage for your project or activity.  These should be as clear and concise as possible. 

We accept that these may be refined over time, particularly in collaboration with beneficiaries.  

We will work to agree on these outcomes with you.  We will also expect you to discuss any changes you may wish to make to these during the funding period. 

By ‘outcomes’ we mean the difference or changes you make through your activities. 

Outcomes should be set before you identify what evidence is collected to demonstrate these changes and before any methods of data collection are agreed upon. 

Outcomes should identify WHO we want to see a change for, WHAT that change will be (for example in employment status, well-being), and IN WHAT WAY this should change (we will usually want to improve, maintain, reduce etc.). 

For example:

Outcome: Care experienced young people are more active citizens

  • Who:                  Care experienced young people
  • What:                 Citizenship
  • In what way:      Increase their activity


Outcome: People affected by dementia have more say in decisions that affect them

  • Who:                     People affected by Dementia
  • What:                    Involvement in decision making
  • In what way:         More influence

Outcomes and Outputs (or activities)

It is important to be clear on the distinction between outcomes and the more immediate outputs of the work we fund (we also refer to these as activities). The words ‘outcome’ and'output'sound similar but have different meanings.

  • OutCOMEs are the changes and differences that come out of your activities.
  • OutPUTs are the activities you do to help achieve your outcomes.

Your outcomes should be clear and simple in terms of describing the difference that you make. They should describe the change you expect to see in terms of what might increase, improve, or reduce.

Some of these outcomes may be intermediate outcomes (identified steps towards achieving long-term, sustained outcomes). It is important to describe these steps as they will help tell the story of the change your project is bringing about.

Outcomes may mean different things to different people and therefore they may express the outcome in different ways.  The Trust encourages those we fund to work with beneficiaries to ensure that all outcomes are supported and well understood. 

To be able to measure outcomes, a set of indicators are developed next.  These are discussed in a separate section.



Setting outcomes are an essential part of planning your project and are the basis for any evaluation activity. There are a number of excellent guides on this topic.

  • The Big Lottery offers further guidance on to Using the Outcomes Approach. It makes the link between identifying, understanding, and explaining the needs you want to meet and being clear about the outcomes you will achieve.
  • Charities Evaluation Services provides guide on Your Project and Its Outcomes. This is one of the most comprehensive and accessible guides available.
  • Evaluation Support Scotland provides a helpful introductory guide to Clarifying Your Aims, Outcomes and Activities. It helps you work out what your outcomes are and how to write them.
  • An Outcomes Toolbox, developed by IRISS in partnership with Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS), brings together a range of resources relevant to an outcomes-focused approach in the social services.