Often feared by many, the outputs section is often left until well into the funding application process. But outputs should be thought about early on, as they are the way you demonstrate to a funder or investor, ‘it was worth giving us the investment, just look at what we’ve achieved’.
To be formal outputs are usually defined as what is delivered (and you may see the awful jargon term ‘deliverables’ mentioned), during the life of the project. There may be a predefined list of indicators or options (detailed in any guidance notes), or up to you to come up with your own. Each output usually needs to detail:
- What they are about (eg creating a job)
- What the starting position is (eg currently (Oct 15) 2 full-time equivalent jobs)
- What the end position will be (eg 4 full-time equivalent posts)
- When it is you’ll get there. (eg Oct 17)
- And how you will prove it (eg job adverts, wage slips)
Be careful as outputs can be confused with outcomes which are usually defined as the longer term consequences or impact of the project, BUT some funders have their own definitions of what each means!
For those of you who are familiar with objective setting, applying the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) principles can help. Outputs need to be tangible and usually include a number. Keep it simple, the number of outputs should be appropriate to the size and scale of the project proposed.
It might help to think about what information you collect already, and ask yourself, can any of this help evidence an output target? It is much easier to continue something you do already and make outputs evidence collation integral to your current way of working.
Keep details of how you arrive at the figures you put in the application as you will need to replicate the process when you come to report on achievements. And it is very unlikely you will remember how you arrived at a figure of 3,567 attendees at events unless you have written down how you got to this figure.
If you aren’t collecting any information already, then you will need to establish what is known as a baseline and then start collecting the evidence.
The format to write outputs will normally be supplied by the funder – usually a table, often in excel, so that they are easy to read. Once funding is awarded, a funder will indicate when and how you should report.
To summarise, outputs are delivered during the lifetime of the project, and shouldn’t be scary, but they often are.
If you need help with any aspect of your project application, please get in touch with Sophie Price 01837 658643 to discuss your queries.