Guidance Notes: Setting your outcomes & activities

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

In your application form, and at the start of each year of funding, we want you to tell us about the difference you hope to make through your work, and what activities you plan to deliver to make this difference.   This guidance note provides some advice around setting your outcomes.

Why do we ask you to do this?

  • To help us understand what it is you are trying to achieve through your work
  • To help us make a decision on whether to award you a grant
  • If you are successful in your application, your outcomes and activities will be the agreed framework that we use to monitor progress over the course of your grant
  • By reporting to us on your outcomes and activities, you will help us to build our own understanding of the difference our grants are making, and to help us understand better “what works”

As well as the guidance below, our short video provides some helpful advice:

Outcomes are the differences or changes you want to make through your services or activities. They are about changes in people’s skills, knowledge, feelings or behaviour. They should relate directly to the need for your project, i.e. the reason your project exists, and the people your project will support, i.e. your beneficiaries.

Outcomes should include change words such as ‘improve’, ‘increase’, ‘reduce’, ‘do better’ or ‘maintain’. When writing your outcomes, you should tell us who is changing, what is changing and how the change is happening.

Example outcome: Isolated older people experience reduced feelings of loneliness.

Who is changing? Isolated older people
What is changing? Their feelings of loneliness
How (in what direction) is change happening? Their loneliness is reducing. 

  • Young people reduce their substance misuse
  • Carers feel better able to cope
  • Unemployed disabled people gain new skills for employment
  • Disadvantaged children have more opportunities for safe and constructive play
  • People in the community are more involved in local activities
  • Staff are recruited
  • To run the day centre
  • Information is provided

If you are applying for or are in receipt of multi-year funding from us, we would normally expect your outcomes to remain the same for the whole grant period. In some cases, however, you may want to adapt your outcomes to reflect ongoing learning. Please speak to your Funding Officer if you want to change your outcome(s).

Activities are the things you will do and deliver in order to achieve your outcomes. They should include words that describe what you will do e.g. ‘support’, ‘provide’, ‘run’, ‘deliver’, ‘enable’. They should also include relevant beneficiary numbers and frequency/duration of the activity, where appropriate. Examples of activities are:

  • Deliver an annual support programme to 20 young disabled people
  • Run a monthly carers support group for 15 carers
  • Recruit and train 5 volunteers
  • Run programmes in 6 schools for a total of 60 pupils facing disadvantage
  • If you already have outcomes that you have agreed within your organisation, or as part of another funding bid, see if you can use these rather than creating new ones. Keep it simple!
  • Use simple language that makes sense to you and keep your statements concise.
  • Think about how you will show if you have achieved your outcomes when you are asked to report back on it. Outcomes should be measurable, relevant to what you are doing, and realistic.
  • Make sure there is a direct link between your outcomes and the activities you will be delivering
  • Make sure your outcomes are mainly about the people you work with rather than your organisation.
  • If you want, you can set one internal outcome. For example: ‘increased capacity to support growing service user numbers’.
  • If we are making a grant towards your core work please identify a range of outcomes that reflect the breadth of your organisation’s work (as in example 1 below). If we are funding a project, we expect to see outcomes that are specifically about this project (as in example 2 below).
  • If we are making a grant towards capital costs, your outcomes and activities should not focus on the capital works themselves. They should be about the services you will be able to provide as a result of the capital works and the difference that these will make to your service users.
  • It is OK to have the same activity for more than one outcome, where appropriate.

For a Small grant of up to £5K per annum, or a Community Capital grant, we would like you to identify for the next year:

  • 1 outcome
  •  3 activities

For a Small grant of between £5K and £10K per annum, we would like you to identify for the next year:

  • 2 outcomes
  • 3 activities under each outcome

For a Main grant of over £10K per annum, we would like you to identify for the next year:

  • 3 outcomes
  • 3 activities under each outcome
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