Donors are increasingly interested in outputs, outcomes and impact to help them understand what your charity or non-profit organization does and the difference their donation could make. Understanding the terminology is key to writing clear funding applications, as well as helping you to improve the work you do.
So, what do donors mean when they talk about outputs, outcomes and impact? We have provided an explanation below, as well as other key terms you may find in funding applications.
The key terms your charity needs to know for successful grant applications
If you can clearly articulate your project outputs and outcomes, your application is more likely to be understood by a potential donor. In turn, this can make them more inclined to support your project.
Some donors base their entire grant-making criteria (and therefore grant committee decision-making) around outcomes. How well a proposed project can articulate its outcomes will influence the success or failure of an application.
Many donors and funders include useful guidance on their website or grant application to demonstrate how to meet their outcomes criteria. The guidance is relevant when applying to all potential funders.
An output is the services or goods that are delivered. An outcome is the difference the output will make. The examples below provide a quick and easy way to remember the difference between an output and an outcome:
A common mistake is to confuse outputs and outcomes with inputs. Inputs are the people, objects, and resources you use to deliver your project or activities. For example, an educational charity may use teachers to deliver training. Here, the number of students receiving training is the output, as they benefit from the activity, and the teachers are the input, as they are helping to deliver the activity.