Outcomes and Targets

"Outcomes" are not what you do, or want to do, but what you expect the results or effects of your action to be. They are different from "targets" although you will want to include targets as well. For example, a target might be the number of training sessions you wish to run; the outcome would be the changes in the people attending these sessions, how they felt, what effect that had on their lives. Outcomes have to be demonstrated, and to do this, you will need a way of assessing people at the beginning of the activity - what we call a "baseline". Ideally this will involve the people themselves at all stages.

Outcomes should be “SMART”:
Outcomes must also be specific to your own work, and show how you have helped particular people in a specific way. It may not be enough to say that the activity "increased confidence in young mothers"; you want the young mothers to do something with this increased confidence.

You must be able to measure your outcomes in some way. For example, how do you know that a young mother’s confidence has increased? Perhaps by the fact that she speaks more in a group, that she sets boundaries for her child, that she comes on her own instead of having to be brought. So you need to be measuring (or monitoring) these changes through recording, discussing with staff, asking the user etc. There are imaginative ways of doing this, especially if users have problems with literacy. Please consult the website of Evaluation Support Scotland as a start.

This means realistic – something you can actually achieve. You will know what the people you are working with are capable of, and you will be working to their strengths. At the same time, you must not set yourself (or them) up to fail. What looks like a small step may be huge for them.

What you are trying to achieve must be relevant both to your aims, to our interests and to the lives of your users. You may find someone a house - but that may not be what you have set out to do, however worthwhile it is. The outcome has to relate to what you have said you are trying to do. However, see below for unexpected outcomes, which you may want to tell us about.

Your outcomes should happen within a certain time, and the timescale should be clear to us. That means, for example, that you cannot set an outcome for a baby that refers to its performance in secondary school, but you could suggest that it will adapt better to nursery at age 3 or that it will have improved sleep patterns at 2.

We are also interested in unexpected outcomes! Letting us know about these may be educational for the Trust and for other organisations undertaking similar activities.