Examples of Grant Outcomes and How To Measure Them


Jessica Knapp


CEO, Communities In Schools Pennsylvania

Reviewed by:


May 13, 2024

Last Updated:

May 14, 2024

As a grant writer, you can probably relate to the feeling of “jargon overload”. I know I can!

Whether it’s outcomes, objectives, outputs, or ROI, we often find ourselves immersed in a sea of technical terms.

It can be difficult to decipher what is important and what isn’t. But we’re here to tell you that grant outcomes are critical indicators of success.

If you’re wondering what a grant outcome is and why it matters, don’t fret! In this article, we’re going to walk you through:

  • What grant outcomes are
  • Why they are important
  • And how to report them to funders

We’re also going to lean on the knowledge shared in Steve Boland’s webinar on using logic models to provide a structured approach to defining and measuring grant success effectively.

By the time you finish reading, you’ll be an expert at measuring grant success and outcome reporting. Ready? Let’s dive in!

What Are Grant Outcomes?

Understanding and articulating grant outcomes is critical if you want to win funding. Funders expect clear and measurable results from funded projects, and it’s crucial to detail these anticipated outcomes in your grant proposals.

However, it’s so easy for outcomes, outputs, and impact measurements to get mixed up. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re very, very different!

Don’t worry—we’re here to clarify:

Grant outcomes are the specific, measurable results or changes that occur as a direct consequence of a funded project or program. They are crucial for measuring grant success and informing outcome reporting, serving as tangible evidence of the impact of nonprofit initiatives.

Let’s simplify things a bit. Grant outcomes answer the question, “What difference did our project make?”

Check out this example that Steve shared in his webinar. This slide does a great job differentiating between outcomes, outputs, and impacts with a helpful visual:

Here’s a quick summary of the difference between outputs and outcomes:

  • Outputs are the immediate results of activities, such as the number of people served or the services provided. A good example of a grant output is: 100 students attended tutoring sessions in one week.
  • Outcomes, on the other hand, represent the broader changes or benefits resulting from these outputs. For example, a grant outcome could be: improved literacy rates in the community.

As Steve Boland shared, outcomes are the changes that occur as a result of the outputs.

For grant writers, defining outcomes involves identifying the intended changes or benefits that the project aims to achieve.

These outcomes should be:

  • Clear
  • Achievable
  • Directly linked to the project’s objectives and goals

Ultimately, outcomes go beyond the activities or outputs of a project and focus on the actual changes experienced by beneficiaries or the community.

Why Are Outcomes Important for Writing Grants?

As a grant professional, I can attest—it is critically important to define clear and achievable outcomes when you’re drafting a grant proposal.

Here’s why:

  • Demonstrate Impact: Outcomes provide a clear picture of a project’s intended impact, going beyond activities to show real changes and benefits.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Well-defined outcomes help in setting realistic goals and expectations, ensuring the project stays focused on its objectives.
  • Facilitate Evaluation and Reporting: Clear outcomes make it easier to track progress, collect relevant data, and evaluate the success of the project, providing accountability to funders and informing future grant applications.

In essence, outcomes provide a roadmap for planning, implementation, and evaluation, and guide the entire grant project from start to finish.

From the funder’s perspective, measurable outcomes give them confidence in your project and show that you have a strategic plan in place. They want to see that their investment will make a tangible difference, and well-defined outcomes provide that assurance.

Grant professional Rachel Grusin, Project Coordinator for the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, shared with us how outcomes play into being grant-ready:

“Another critical factor [for being grant ready] is having a clearly defined mission and programs that align with it. Your programs should have measurable outcomes and a demonstrated impact. It’s also important to have evidence of past successes, like testimonials or data showing your programs’ effectiveness.”

By defining clear outcomes, nonprofits not only demonstrate the effectiveness of their initiatives, but also that they understand what strategies are working and where adjustments are needed.

So, clearly defining grant outcomes is not just about securing funding, it’s about making meaningful and sustainable change.

It should be pretty clear by now: it’s vital for grant professionals to include measurable outcomes in their proposals to demonstrate impact, set realistic goals, facilitate evaluation and reporting, and ultimately, stand out in a competitive grant landscape.

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3 Examples of Grant Outcomes and How To Measure Them

In this section, we’re going to dive into examples of grant outcomes and how to measure them across three different funding categories:

  • Educational programs
  • Health and wellness initiatives
  • Environmental projects

We’ll provide specific examples of outcomes within each category and discuss practical methods for measuring them.

As you explore these examples, you’ll gain practical insights into how to define and measure outcomes in various contexts. This will help you understand how to tailor your approach to outcome measurement based on the nature of your project and the goals you hope to achieve.

As if this isn’t enough, there’s more! We’re also going to offer you some real-life tips to enhance your understanding and implementation of outcome measurement strategies.

Educational Programs

Educational programs typically aim to enhance knowledge, skills, and learning outcomes among participants. Here are a few examples of outcomes for these types of programs as well as how to measure them:

  1. Improved literacy rates among elementary school students.
    - Measurement:
    Pre and post-tests to assess reading levels, standardized assessments, teacher evaluations, and attendance records.
  2. Increased graduation rates among high school students.
    - Measurement:
    Tracking graduation rates over time, analyzing dropout rates, conducting surveys to understand student engagement and motivation.
  3. Enhanced STEM proficiency among middle school students.
    - Measurement:
    Pre and post-assessments in STEM subjects, student project evaluations, and participation in STEM-related extracurricular activities

Here are a few tips for measuring educational impact:

  • Utilize both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess learning outcomes.
  • Implement pre and post-tests to measure changes in knowledge or skills.
  • Collect feedback from program participants, teachers, and parents to understand program effectiveness.
  • Consider long-term outcomes, such as graduation rates or college enrollment rates to assess impact.

Health and Wellness Initiatives

Health and wellness initiatives aim to improve the overall well-being and health outcomes of individuals and communities. Here are some example outcomes and strategies for measuring success:

  1. Reduced obesity rates in a targeted community.
    - Measurement:
    BMI measurements, surveys on dietary habits and physical activity levels, and analysis of healthcare data.
  2. Decreased smoking rates among adolescents.
    - Measurement:
    Surveys on smoking habits, tracking changes in smoking-related behaviors, and analyzing trends in smoking cessation programs.
  3. Improved mental health outcomes among participants.
    - Measurement:
    Pre and post-assessments of mental health symptoms, surveys on well-being and coping mechanisms, and analysis of healthcare utilization data.

Here are a few strategies for data collection and reporting that you mind find useful:

  • Implement comprehensive data collection methods, including surveys, interviews, and medical records review.
  • Collaborate with healthcare providers and community organizations to access relevant data and resources.
  • Use data visualization tools to present findings in a clear and compelling way.
  • Regularly monitor and evaluate program activities to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • Incorporate participant feedback into program adjustments.

Environmental Projects

Environmental projects often focus on preserving natural resources, mitigating environmental degradation, and promoting sustainable practices. Here, we’re going to explore some sample outcomes, methods for measuring them, and how to use technology to track environmental changes.

Example Outcomes:

  1. Improved air quality in urban areas.
    - Measurement:
    Installation of air quality monitoring stations, analysis of pollutant levels, and use of satellite imagery.
  2. Increased biodiversity in an ecosystem.
    - Measurement:
    Biodiversity assessments, tracking population trends of key species and habitat restoration efforts.
  3. Reduced water pollution in a river or watershed.
    - Measurement:
    Water quality testing, analysis of pollutant levels, and monitoring of aquatic ecosystems.

Did you know that you can use technology to track environmental changes? Here are a few ways:

  • Utilize remote sensing technologies, such as satellites and drones, to monitor environmental changes over large areas.
  • Implement sensor networks to collect real time data on air and water quality.
  • Use geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze spatial data and identify areas of environmental concern.
  • Explore emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to analyze data and predict future trends.

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Reporting Outcomes To Funders

Funders expect clear, concise, and evidence-based reporting on the outcomes of their investments.

They want to see measurable results and understand the impact of their contributions. When reporting outcomes to funders, it’s essential to provide them with:

  • Clear descriptions of the project’s objectives and goals
  • Measurable outcomes and indicators of success
  • Data-backed evidence of the project’s impact
  • Insights into how funds were utilized and any changes made to the original plan

Though it can be scary, don’t stress too much if there were challenges in meeting your projected outcomes. The most important thing is to be honest with your funders about any challenges faced and how you plan to address any setbacks.

Here’s a word of warning from Mary Gladstone-Highland from Spark Group Consulting:

“If you need to report on unmet objectives or targets make sure to be honest. Making up data or sugar-coating problems isn't advisable. Your grantors will see through those tactics. Instead, highlight how you plan to address the challenges and remain within your original vision for the project.”

For more in-depth guidance on grant reporting, be sure to check out some of these resources:

Each of these resources offer valuable insights and practical tips for effectively communicating your project’s achievements to funders.

Wrapping Up: Grant Outcomes

It’s time to wrap things up!

Here’s what we’ve learned today: effective outcome measurement and outcome reporting are critical components of successful grant management.

By clearly defining outcomes, measuring progress, and reporting on achievements, you can demonstrate the impact of your projects and build trust with funders and stakeholders.

By implementing the tips and techniques from this article, you’ll be able to successfully enhance your nonprofit’s ability to make meaningful and lasting impacts in your community.

Jessica Knapp

Jessica Knapp

Jessica Knapp is the State President and Chief Executive Officer of Communities In Schools Pennsylvania, the United States' largest dropout prevention organization. She has over 10 years of experience in nonprofit operations and leadership, program development, and fundraising/resource development.

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