2. Aims, Outcomes & Activities

When taking an outcomes approach to your project design, it is helpful to think about it on three levels:

  1. The overall aim
  2. The intended outcomes
  3. The actvities

The Charities Evaluation Service recommend using a Planning Triangle.  View a visual example of a planning triangle

The overall aim of your project
What is your project setting out to do? What is the overall change or difference you want it to make? Fundamentally this explains why your project exists.

This is one or two sentences which capture the “when, what, how, when, where” in terms of the children and young people that you want to reach, and what you hope to achieve. Try to be specific about the key characteristics of the groups, what you will do, when and where the activities will take place, and how you plan to work.

The intended outcomes of your project
Your intended outcomes are the changes that you are aiming to achieve because of your project (i.e. what do you expect to change through your project? What difference will it make for the young people taking part?). The language you use to articulate these should involve words that reflect change, for example: increase, reduce, expand, enable, develop, improve.

Your intended outcomes should be linked to the activities you will do (i.e. why are you doing the stated activities? What do you hope to achieve through delivering them?) The changes that result from your activities are your outcomes.

Outcomes should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART). Think about the time and resources you have available and the type of activities you are providing, this will help you to devise outcomes (and relevant indicators) that are SMART. They must relate closely to the activities (specific), be counted or described thoroughly (measurable), and be achievable and realistic within the time and resources dedicated to the activities. 

The activities involved in your project
What are you going to do that will bring about these changes? What activities are you going to deliver through your project. While you use ‘change’ language for your outcomes , you should use ‘doing’ words for your activities (e.g. by providing 12 workshops).

You may find it helpful to think about these within the Planning Triangle structure (above). This allows you to think about each level and how they relate to each other. Will the overall aim of your project be met through achieving the intended outcomes? Will the activities you have planned realistically enable you to bring about the changes outlined in your intended outcomes? While some activities will help deliver on more than one outcome, it is critical that each activity is linked to at least one outcome, and that each outcome has at least one activity that will ensure your project delivers on it.