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Part 1: Plan

What is an outcomes approach?

What is an outcomes approach?

Outcomes are the changes your project achieves. An outcomes approach helps you understand the relationship between what you do and why you do it. It helps you understand what is working and supports you to evidence change. Your project aim, outcomes and activities should all be related.

  • Each of your outcomes should respond the need you have identified.
  • Every activity you plan to deliver should relate to at least one of your outcomes.

All of your outcomes should align with the overall difference your project hopes to make.

Outputs are not the same as outcomes!

  • Outputs focus on the number of activities carried out.
  • Outcomes focus on the changes that occur as a result of the activities. 

Youth Music supports organisations to take an outcomes approach to delivering projects. Outcomes are the changes your project achieves.

You decide what outcomes you think your project should achieve. You also decide how you will check to see if your project achieves these outcomes. Your evaluation plan captures this information.

Youth Music is interested in outcomes in 5 areas:

  • Musical, personal and social outcomes for children and young people.
  • Outcomes for the music workforce. (Changes in the way we work.)
  • Outcomes for the organisations for which we work. (Changes in our organisations.)

How evaluation data is used

The information submitted by grantholders is used in a number of ways:

  • To learn about the impact of our investment.
  • To produce reports and resources.
  • To identify what works and share what we learn with others.
  • To inform how we make funding decisions and design our programmes. 

Drafting your evaluation

Identifying the purpose of your evaluation

Evaluation can have different purposes. Think about who the evaluation is for and what you want it to explore. If your work brings about lots of different outcomes then think about which ones will be most useful to measure.

The purpose of evaluation in Youth Music funded projects is often a combination of the following:

  • Learning and adapting - using findings to help adapt your work to the changing circumstances around you.
  • Demonstrating impact - exploring whether your work brings specific outcomes and showing to others how your work has made a difference.

Budgeting and resourcing

Your evaluation should be embedded in your project plan. You will need to allow time and resource to:

  • Finalise your evaluation plan.
  • Undertake data collection, storage and analysis.
  • Present your findings. 

You should include time and resource for this within your project plan and project budget.

You can appoint an external evaluator to help you with some or all of the process. This might be helpful if you want an external perspective or to fill a particular skills gap.

Drafting your evaluation plan 

In your application to Youth Music, you will be asked to list your:

Outcomes are the changes your project wishes to achieve. These can be changes in behaviour, skills, knowledge, attitudes etc.

Outcome indicators are where you will look to identify change.

Data collection tools are what you will use to capture evidence of change.

Top Tips:

  • Aim to keep your evaluation plan simple and focussed.
  • Make use of existing processes and data collection where possible. 

Types of data

There are two categories of data you are likely to use.

  • Quantitative data helps you understand the scale or frequency of something. It often involves expressing amounts or proportions numerically.
  • Qualitative data helps you understand opinions and experiences. It often involves describing a range of opinions through written narrative. 

By collecting a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data, you can explore the depth and breadth of your outcomes.

  • Quantitative data can help add scale and breadth to qualitative data.
  • Qualitative data can help add context and depth to quantitative data.


Evaluation builder

You will be asked to track a set number of outcomes in your evaluation. For each outcome, you’ll need to choose three outcome indicators and data collection tools. You can use the menus on the following tables to help you do this.

Musical outcomes builder

Musical outcomes relate to musical development in young people. This can include:

  • Skills, knowledge and abilities.
  • Understanding or awareness of musical styles and approaches.
  • Ability to communicate ideas using music.

Personal outcomes builder

Personal outcomes relate to personal development. This can include:

  • Skills, knowledge, abilities and behaviour.
  • How people feel about themselves.
  • Being able to do new things.

Social outcomes builder

Social outcomes relate to changes in a person or group of people that can have broader benefits for people and society beyond the individual. These can include:

  • Leadership, teamwork or interpersonal skills.
  • Engagement with the community or services.
  • Interpersonal skills and relationships.

Workforce outcomes builder

Workforce outcomes relate to the skills, knowledge and personal development of the workforce employed on a project.

Organisational outcomes builder

Organisational outcomes refer to developments in your own or another organisation.

How often to collect data

How often to collect data

More data does not necessarily lead to a stronger evaluation. The more data you collect, the more time you will need to spend analysing it. There are ways to streamline your data collection and analysis:

  • Projects reaching large numbers of young people could collect data from a representative sample of participants rather than everyone.
  • Reflective questionnaires could be used at the end of your project, rather than baseline and follow-up questionnaires.
  • Qualitative data tends to take longer to analyse, so be careful about how many qualitative data collection tools you use.

Discussing your plans with your project team will help inform what to collect and when to collect it.

Baseline and follow up questionnaires ask respondents to complete a questionnaire at two different points in the project to establish distance travelled. 

Reflective questionnaires ask respondents to reflect on distance travelled, usually towards end of a project.

Types of data

What data you collect and how often you collect it will correspond to what you trying to achieve. The quantitative and qualitive data you collect is likely to be one of 5 main types as per the image below:

  1. User
  2. Engagement
  3. Feedback
  4. Outcomes
  5. Impact

See NPC's 5 Types of Data blog for further information.

Need help?

Email your Grants and Learning Officer, or contact us on:


Telephone: 020 7902 1060

Available in the next parts of this guidance are:

Youth Music can also provide additional support if you are successful in your grant application.