Ongoing funding and support is more likely to be given if you can show positive outcomes of your community food activity. These outcomes need to be matched to the outcomes support organisations (such as funders, local agencies and the Scottish Government) are looking for.
Outcomes are measured using indicators. Indicators are elements of your work that can be measured, such as how much fresh produce has been consumed or how many people have benefited.
What are outcomes?
Outcomes are the changes made as a result of our work. By measuring outcomes you can demonstrate the difference that is made through your activities.
Outputs are what you deliver through your activities, e.g. the number of people attending a training course or the number of people receiving a newsletter.
For example, if we consider a food and health training course. The output for this would be the number of people taking part in the training session and the outcomes would measure what they have learnt and what they will do differently as a result of this training.
Outputs are important to report as well as outcomes.
Why are outcomes important?
Outcomes are important as they reflect the difference that is being made for communities and not just how this difference is being made. They encourage us to focus on the changes and not just the activities. By measuring the outcomes that are achieved through activities we are highlighting the real differences that are made for individuals and families.
Who measures outcomes?
In 2007 the Scottish Government launched Scotland Performs, a national performance framework designed to capture change and progress against priority issues for Scotland. This outcomes-focused approach encourages us to focus on the differences being made.
Funders and agencies want to show a difference has been made by their support for your work. Local authorities, the Scottish Government and health boards all have intended outcomes they want to achieve in the next few years. If your outcomes match theirs, you have a better chance of gaining support.
Many community food initiatives have been evaluating their outcomes for a long time whilst others are now getting to grips with this new reporting environment. This is the same for some funders.
Where to go for more information
- Evaluation Support Scotland: has a range of support guides for planning and measuring outcomes
- Scotland Performs: the national performance framework
- NHS Health Scotland Outcomes Framework: designed to help NHS organisations think through what focussing on outcomes means in practical terms
- Outcome-focused approaches: why outcome-focused approaches are important for community and voluntary sector organisations (NHS Health Scotland)
Some CFHS publications on outcomes
- Making the case (CFHS 2014)
- Building blocks and baby steps: how do community food initiatives make an impact on and influence maternal and infant nutrition (CFHS 2013)
- Getting the messages: what is the impact of basic accredited nutrition courses on food and health work (CFHS 2013)
- Not only … but also: celebrating the contribution of community food initiatives towards developing local outcomes (CFHS 2012)
- Celebrating Outcomes: celebrating the contribution of community food initiatives towards meeting national outcomes for Scotland (CFHS 2011)
- Community food initiatives contributing to the Scottish Government Route Map for Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland (CFHS 2011)
Other useful reports
- Harmonising Reporting Implementation: case study report from Evaluation Support Scotland