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Understanding the language of impact and evaluation

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Understanding evaluation terminology can help you plan your evaluation more effectively. Here are some of the key terms we use in this section.

Impact: broad or longer-term effects of a project or organisation’s work. This can include effects on people who are direct users of a project or organisation’s work, effects on those who are not direct users, or effects on a wider field such as government policy.

Outcomes: the changes, benefits, learning or other effects that happen as a result of a project or organisation’s work. Outcomes can be positive or negative, expected or unexpected.

Outcome indicators: things you can measure to show whether your desired outcomes have happened. They can be qualitative or quantitative.

Outputs: products, services or facilities that result from an organisation's or project's activities.

Output indicators: things you can measure to show whether, and to what extent, your planned outputs have happened.

Activities: the work and actions undertaken to create outputs.

Processes: internal processes are the things which keep your organisation running well. These include things like staff training and development, monitoring and evaluation, and fundraising.

Inputs: resources put into a project to carry out an activity. Inputs may be human, material or financial.

Monitoring: the routine, systematic collection and recording of data about a project, mainly for the purpose of checking its progress against its plans.

Evaluation: using monitoring and other data you collect to make judgements about your project or organisation.

Page last edited Oct 12, 2020

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