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Outputs vs. Outcomes with Examples

Outputs:  The direct products of program activities (e.g.: number of classes taught, number of counseling sessions conducted, number of participants served, number of hours of service delivered, number of pounds of vegetables harvested)

Outcomes: These answer the important question: “Are the participants better off after receiving the service than they were before?” This is a step beyond outputs. (e.g.: new knowledge, increased skills, health improvement, modified behavior, improved conditions)

Outcomes need to be measured during the grant cycle, and for a period after the grant cycle.  (There will be some outcomes that are not measurable.)


A non-profit has decided to start a program to try to encourage people to stop smoking.  They conduct seminars and pass out brochures and even go into the local schools.  Outputs are the number of seminars taught, the number of participants in the seminars, the number of brochures handed out.  Those are NOT outcomes.  You can have 100 classes and not one person stops smoking.  Outcomes will be the measurable modified behavior.  How many stopped smoking?  How many improved their health (measuring what it was before and after)?  Then following these same people for a set number of months or years.

Read more about Measuring Outcomes here.