While defining project results in a proposal, what is the difference between outputs and outcomes?

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All project proposals should explain all the expected results that will be achieved by the project. Many proposal formats seek extensive information on results just to ensure that the set objectives are successfully achieved. However, some proposal formats request both outputs and outcomes separately.

Project results can be divided into three types:

– Outputs
– Outcomes
– Impact

Outputs are those results which are achieved immediately after implementing an activity. For example, if we are organizing a workshop on human rights, participants who attended it have now got a clear understanding on human rights issues. So, this is an output the project has achieved and it is achieved right after the conclusion of the workshop.

Outcomes can be considered as mid-term results. They are not seen immediately after the end of the project activity. But after some time, when we see some change at the ground level because of the project activity, then it can be termed as an outcome. Taking the above example of a human rights workshop, if the participants have started to mobilize their community members to seek their human rights, then it is an outcome of the project.

Impact is usually a long-term result and it may not be achievable even during the life cycle of the project. For example, if the community has achieved its goal of getting their human rights recognized by the government, then it is an impact created by the project though it is usually seen after several years.