I’ve been told that two of the most confusing jargon terms used in grant application are Outputs and Outcomes. Then throw KPIs (aka Key Performance Indicators) in there and for some people things can go to the next extreme of “say what?”. In today’s blog I will clearly outline what each of these terms are and why they matter!!


Outputs are the things you will be doing, the things that will be directly produced by the project. They are the activities/services you will provide, deliver, produce, build or do. Outputs are for the most part. quantitative and tangible and easy to measure.

Demonstrating outcomes in your application could look like “20 food vouchers will be awarded to 20 youth over the period of 6 months” or “An 800m long recreational boating and fishing jetty will be constructed”.

Why do outputs matter? The answer is quite simplistic – they tell people what exactly you’re going to do with the grant money! And if your project’s output/s won’t result in achieving the outcome required (see below), you will need to change the output because the output should always deliver the outcome!!


Outcomes are the qualitive results, or impact, which you want your project to make. In essence, they are the reason why you are doing the output, the thing. The reason why you’re handing out food vouchers or building a jetty is to achieve certain outcomes.

Therefore, outcomes are key to how you measure your success – they show what the improved situation(s) will be from your project – aka the difference your project will have on people’s lives or the environment.

When discussing your outcomes in your application – it is essential you clearly convey the change your project will make such as “this project will reduce youth crime” or “this project will improve the physical and mental health of the community”. You can also look at ways in which the project your proposing may see a reduction in something, such as “this project would ensure a drastic reduction in the levels of harmful drinking water being provided to the town”.

Why do outcomes matter? Because funders want to see measurable outcomes, they want to know your project is going to deliver what you are saying it is going to do. As for why outcomes should matter to you, the applicant – measuring outcomes will show you if your project is accomplishing the goals you set out to accomplish and if not, you can make adjustments where needed.

Key Performance Indicators – KPIs

Key Performance Indicators or commonly known as KPI’s are clearly defined measurements that indicate whether program outcomes and outputs are being delivered. The best KPIs are SMART:

Specific (include actual targets)

Measurable (be able to measure whether the KPI has been achieved)

Achievable (make sure you are able to achieve the target)

Realistic (is it realistic to think your project will deliver that outcome?)

Time-bound (when will you achieve it by?)

For example, a SMART KPI would be “This project will create 5 jobs in Company X by June 2024”. As opposed to a non-SMART KPI which may just say – “This project will create jobs and boost the economy”. You can see how the first has a specific target (5 jobs), a time (by June 2024) and that it is measurable (you can look at Company X employment data pre and post project). Whether it is achievable and realistic depends on what the project is doing – if the is installing new equipment to produce a new product, then that sounds achievable and realistic. If the project is putting in a new coffee machine in the office, then it doesn’t seem possible that will create 5 new jobs.

So in summary – Outputs are the What/ the thing you deliver, Outcomes are the Why/ the reason you are doing the thing and KPIs are how you measure and prove that you have delivered the Outputs and Outcomes.

I hope this blog cleared up any confusion around Outputs, Outcomes and KPI’s for you. If you have further questions relating to this blog or to our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Whitney Consulting today – we will be only too happy to assist you!!