4. Planning Your Intended Change /

4.2 Identifying your outcomes

STANDARD:

We have identified which positive outcomes are central to the ultimate change (impact) we seek.

To meet the standard in full, you have identified a small number of positive outcomes (results) that are likely to make the most direct contributions to achieving your intended impact. You have stated these clearly. Together, they describe the difference you plan to make.

If you are serious about measuring the impact of your social enterprise then you should take time getting to know how to plan and measure outcomes.  

Outcomes are simply a set of statements that together summarize the positive change you plan to make as an organization. They can be thought of as the short-term and intermediate steps that lead to your intended impact. They should describe the change you expect to see in terms of what might increase, improve, reduce and so on.

The outcomes that you are working towards are likely to be reasonably complex. It can be helpful to reflect on intended changes in Behaviour, Attitude, Condition, Knowledge, or Status (BACKS outcomes).

Outcome area Example outcomes
Behaviour Reduced incidence of criminal reoffending
Increased levels of household recycling
Reduced frequency of drug taking
Attitude Increased levels of confidence
Increased awareness of the effects of alcohol
Reduced fear of crime
Condition Less children registered as being at-risk
Reduced incidence of health problems
More people in permanent housing
Knowledge Improved parenting skills
Increased knowledge of housing rights
Improved self-care skills
Status More people in a stable relationship
Increased take up of job opportunities
Increased level of college enrollment

Sometimes a distinction is made between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ outcomes. A soft outcome is a subjective change in an individual’s knowledge, attitude or behaviour. A hard outcome is a tangible change in condition or status (e.g. achieving a qualification, securing a job).

Whatever the case, you should try to describe the outcomes of your work in clear and simple terms.

When setting outcomes try to prioritize two or three main changes that will most directly affect each intended impact. These should be changes that you can observe, and which are within your ability to influence.

These outcomes are the most important focus of our measurement efforts as they are within the of our organization.

Course 4 in the Impact Practice series from the Social Enterprise Institute provides much more information on outcomes, and a simple technique for designing outcome statements.