2.3: Outputs vs. Outcomes

Understanding the difference between outputs and outcomes is important. Outputs relate to “what we do.” Outcomes refer to “what difference is there.”

Logic model graphic with Outputs and Outcomes both highlighted. Outputs are activities that indicate what we do and participation that indicates who we reach. Outcomes are divided into short term learning, medium term actions, and long term conditions.

In the past, we’ve tended to focus on what is included in the outputs column – “what we do and who we reach.” We are anxious to tell our clients, funders, and community partners what it is that we do, the services we provide, how we are unique, who we serve … We’ve done a good job describing and counting our activities and the number of people who come. Now, however, we are being asked: “What difference does it make?” This is a question about OUTCOMES.

In some logic models, you will see activities separated from outputs; activities may be displayed before outputs. In those models, outputs are typically designated as the accomplishment or product of the activity… for example, number of workshops actually delivered, number of individuals who heard the media message. The assumption is that the activity needs to be delivered as intended before the expected outcomes can occur. We see this as part of measurement (quantity and quality of implementation), which is covered in Section 7.

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