Writing a successful bid: strategic fit; outputs, outcomes & impacts

Writing a successful bid

Strategic Fit - explain how your application links to other policies and initiatives

Many applications, particularly those for public funding, will ask you to explain how your proposal links to government policy and national programmes. You need to be careful that your proposed activities do not duplicate existing programmes or undermine them, for example by attracting trainees that would otherwise count towards government targets.

You may also need to be sensitive; to ensure that by suggesting an alternative, you are not tacitly criticising the funders own policy or practice. Some funders, notably the European Union, will ask applicants to describe:

  • How their proposed interventions complement national programmes; and
  • The ‘additionality’ that their proposals provide, in relation to national programmes.

Demonstrate knowledge of the appropriate strategies of the funders (EU, Government, ULF, Trust etc) and evidence with quotes.

Demonstrate your knowledge of the sector

Look at existing reports and research and demonstrate how you understand the needs of the sector/area/beneficiaries. This is part of building the evidence-based case that is required by most funders.

Outputs, outcomes and impacts

People often get confused about the difference between a project’s outputs and outcomes.

  • Outputs are the services and products that you propose to deliver – the things that you ‘put out’. Outputs are delivered during the lifetime of a project.
  • Outcomes are the effects of the outputs on people participating in your proposed project, while outcomes can become evident both during a project’s lifetime and in the longer-term. Examples of short-term outcomes include increased motivation, changes attitudes and aspirations, improved knowledge and skills, or growth in confidence. Examples of longer-term outcomes include changes in social or economic circumstances, e.g. rising economic activity and employment rates, salary growth, promotion, or community participation.

Include both soft and hard outcomes

Hard outcomes usually involve an external change in peoples’ behaviour or circumstances and are relatively easy to measure. Soft outcomes involve internal changes in attitudes or the way people see themselves and are more difficult to measure. Make sure that both your outputs and outcomes are quantified and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound). But check that your outcome objectives clearly link to the statement of your project’s overall goal(s) that you have included in your introduction. Goals are broad statements setting out what you hope to accomplish.

Consider how you might evaluate your impacts

Impacts can be more creative, e.g. Number of workers employed post retirement age; Proportion of employees below living wage / on in-work benefits; Enhanced recruitment of young people, through work experience, Traineeships, Apprenticeships; etc.

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