1.2 Outcomes

Funding Learn how to be clear about your project outcomes

What is a project outcome?

An outcome is a result of what your project does. It’s a change that happens, rather than an activity or service you provide, which is an output.

The easiest way of describing an outcome is to explain how it is different from an output.

  • The output of cooking dinner is a plate of food. But the outcome is a full and satisfied person.
  • The output of a teacher is a certain number of lessons delivered in a year, but the outcome is happier, wiser students who are more able to succeed.

When you are designing your proposal, it is very important that you separate out the output (for example, 'building an events space'), from the outcome (for example, 'ensuring that twice as many people from the local community engage with their own stories').

Why do you have to clearly set out your project outcomes?

Project outcomes are really important to us because we want to back projects that make a difference, rather than projects that just make some stuff.

This is so important to us that we’ve decided that we’ll only support projects that clearly explain what their outcomes are.

More specifically, we’ve decided to exclusively support projects that lead to one of nine types of outcome that we think are especially important.

If you aren’t clear about the outcomes your project is likely to create, we won’t be able to support your work. And if you are clear about your outcomes, but it doesn’t line up with one or more of the nine outcomes we have prioritised, we also won't be able to help you.

Our outcomes

There are nine outcomes in total. Every project we fund must achieve our mandatory outcome.

Some funded projects will only achieve the mandatory outcome, others might achieve four or five.

There is no obligation to name more than one, and we strongly encourage you not to claim more outcomes than you really think you can deliver.

  1. A wider range of people will be involved in heritage

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, then the range of people benefiting from heritage will be more diverse than before your project started.

    To achieve this outcome, you’ll need to include audience development work and community consultation in your planning.

    You will need to collect and analyse information about the people who engage with your heritage - and those who don’t - and you’ll need to track how this changes over time.

    What we are looking for

    Signs that you will be able to show that your audience or volunteer profile has changed between the start - and end - of the project. It might include, for example, a broader range of ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds, more disabled people, or groups who have never engaged with your heritage before.

    Mandatory outcome

    This outcome must be part of your project plan. There are other outcomes your project might achieve but this one is mandatory.

  2. Heritage will be in better condition

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, then there will be improvements to the physical state of your heritage.

    These improvements might be the result of repair, renovation or work to prevent further deterioration.

    For example, mending the roof of a historic building, conserving an archive, clearing field ditches or repairing a ship.

    Improvements might also result from new work, for example, constructing a new building, or structure, to protect historic ruins, archaeology or vehicles. Or, increasing the size of an existing habitat to benefit priority species.

    What we are looking for

    Professional and heritage specialists will be able to recognise improvements through industry standards.

    Improvements will also be seen by people more generally, for example, by local residents or visitor surveys.

  3. Heritage will be identified and better explained

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, then there will be new or improved ways to help people make sense of heritage.

    This might include displays in a museum, a smartphone app with information about the biodiversity and geodiversity of a landscape, talks or tours in a historic building, an accessible guide to a historic house, or online information about archives.

    What we are looking for

    Visitors and users will tell you that the interpretation and information you provide are easy to use and appropriate for their needs and interests, and that they help their understanding, and improve their experience of heritage.

  4. People will have developed skills

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, then individuals will have gained the relevant skills to make sure that heritage is better looked after, managed, understood or shared (this might include conservation, teaching/training, maintenance, digital and project management skills).

    Structured training activities could, for example, be an informal mentoring programme, on-the-job training, taking on an Apprentice, or external short courses.

    What we are looking for

    People involved in your project, including staff, Apprentices and volunteers, will be able to demonstrate competence in new, specific skills, and where appropriate, will have gained a formal qualification.

  5. People will have learned about heritage, leading to change in ideas and actions

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, then individuals will have developed their understanding of heritage because you’ve provided them with opportunities to experience heritage in different ways that meet their needs and interests.

    What we are looking for

    People will be able to tell you what they have learned about heritage and what difference this makes to them and their lives, after experiencing your project.

    This might be through taking part in your project, visiting your site, or engaging with your heritage through digital technology.

    They will also be able to tell you what they are doing with that knowledge and understanding; for example, sharing it with other people, using it in their professional or social life, or taking further study.

  6. People will have greater wellbeing

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, individuals will feel more connected to those around them as a result of your project.

    They may also feel more connected to the place where they live. This is what we mean by greater wellbeing.

    To achieve this outcome, your project should be designed to impact on wellbeing. It should be developed with expert organisations if you plan to involve people through mental health services or people with learning disabilities.

    You might provide opportunities for people to be more active. For example, volunteering in a park, taking part in community archaeology, sharing digital skills, or building new connections with others.

    What we are looking for

    You, or your external evaluator, will use recognised evaluation methods to measure wellbeing.

    You will ask people how they feel after experiencing your project.

    Participants will report, for example, increased happiness, greater satisfaction, reduced levels of anxiety, and/or that life feels more worthwhile as a result of their involvement in your project.

    They will feel more connected to those around them, or maybe more connected to the place they live in.

  7. The funded organisation will be more resilient

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, your organisation will have greater capacity to withstand threats and to adapt to changing circumstances to give you a secure future.

    You will achieve this through stronger governance and greater local involvement in your organisation, increased management and staff skills, fresh sources of expertise and advice, and working in partnership to share services, staff and resources.

    What we are looking for

    You might have new volunteers who increase your capacity and skills, or new sources of income through commercial activity, endowments or fundraising programmes.

    You will be able to show that your organisation is stronger and in a better position for the future as a result of the changes you made as part of your project.

  8. The local area will be a better place to live, work or visit

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, local residents will have a better quality of life and overall the local area will be more attractive.

    This will be as a result of improving the appearance of heritage sites, or due to the opportunities you’ve provided for local people, to visit, use, get involved with, and enjoy heritage.

    Residents will report that they feel greater pride in the local area. They may also have a stronger sense of belonging.

    What we are looking for

    Community members will report a greater sense of shared understanding and a better sense of getting on with each other.

    Visitors to your heritage will also tell you that the area has improved as a direct result of your project and what they value about it.

  9. The local economy will be boosted

    What this outcome means

    If your project is a success, then there will be additional income for existing local businesses.

    There may also be new businesses in your local area. You’ll be able to show that local businesses have benefited from your project.

    This will be because you spent your grant locally, or you encouraged more tourists to visit the local area, or maybe because you provided new premises for businesses that moved into the area or expanded their operations within it.

    What we are looking for

    You will be able to show that these changes have happened as a direct result of your project.

    You’ll do this by using information about the local economy, both before, and after, your project.

    You can find this information from places such as your local authority or tourism organisations.