Guidance on outputs and outcomes

In any campaign, there is normally an overall goal or objective that people are working towards, for example, to extend the voting age to include 16 and 17-year-olds.

Campaigners will usually have a range of inputs or resources at their disposal, including staff, finance, equipment or other assets. In order to achieve their goal, they may need to conduct various activities, such as gathering evidence, building support or advocacy activities.

Outputs are immediate results linked to delivering this activity. For example, this might include the amount and nature of media coverage generated by a campaign or the number of MPs across parties pledging support for a change at an event.

Outcomes are short- and medium-term changes achieved. For example, this might involve a new parliamentary inquiry, a government commitment to a policy change, or new legislation or amendments passed into law. Shorter term outcomes achieved might be seen as milestones on the path to achieving long-term objectives.

Impacts are longer term changes that may be achieved over time and may result from an accumulation of outcomes that lead to a more substantial change. Impacts may be positive or negative and can include unintended consequences. They might include a wholesale shift in political attitudes towards an agenda or longer term societal change.

The distinction between the above categories is not always clear cut.

You can download this advice as a PDF.

Note: the download also includes a table that aims to help clarify the key terms listed above by offering general examples and an illustration linked to the goal of achieving a change in the franchise for 16 and 17-year-olds.