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Outcome Mapping Practitioner Guide

Do’s and Don’ts for mapping outcomes

Outcome Mapping requires a mind shift for those who are used to reporting on outputs only. When collecting outcomes in writing, it is therefore quite likely that many outcomes won't have been formulated correctly. Below you can find a checklist that I've developed based on recurring mistakes that I encountered. This list has proved to be helpful as a first check for those who are formulating the outcomes. It can be used when filling out outcome journals or when using Outcome Harvesting for monitoring or evaluation.

Author: Goele Scheers

Published: Wednesday 20 August 2014

Do’s and Don’ts for Mapping Outcomes



Don’t describe an outcome as an activity





We organised an important conference’

An outcome is not a description of what you did, but about how the boundary partner changed because of what you did. Make sure you describe the outcome as a change in the behaviour, relationships, interactions or actions of the boundary partner.


‘In 2008, the Peacebuilding Commission amended the recommendations and conclusions issued at its semi-annual review of peacebuilding in Burundi to reflect concerns about human rights abuses and, as a result, international actors pledged to ensure support for security sector reform to address these concerns’

Avoid using words like ‘increased, enhanced, strengthened, more aware’


‘The youth groups are strengthened’

Instead, describe what the actor you’ve influenced is doing differently now compared to before.


‘In December 2013, four of the youth groups in the Fergana Valley have set up cross-border activities’

Don’t force yourself to find an outcome for every output

Outcomes take time to emerge. You may have done an activity this year of which the outcome might only become visible next year. What’s more, some outputs might never lead to outcomes. Don’t try to find a linear relationship. Your activities might have contributed to more than one outcome or your contribution to an outcome might have been partial or indirectly.

Don’t just report intended, positive or ‘big’ outcomes

Make sure to provide all the changes in behaviour that you can think of. These changes can be unintended, negative or may appear minor. Nevertheless, they are all important to identify emerging patterns of change and/or provide learning opportunities. Even if the boundary partner is not taking action, this might be an outcome, e.g. when something was prevented.

Don’t use words that embellish or make too much of a value statement


Everybody thought it was important and has increased awareness’


The outcome should be factual and objective. Focus on what the boundary partner is doing differently.


‘In 2011, the Ministries of Education of Serbia and Montenegro signed a Memorandum of Understanding on incorporating peace education in the school curricula.’


Don’t give a vague description of the change that happened.


‘The participants were very enthusiastic and motivated after participating in the conference’




Check if the outcome description answers to the questions: who changed what, when and where? (see Peacebuilding Commission example above)

Would an outsider who reads the outcome be able to understand what happened?

The outcome should describe observable changes. You can use quantitative as well as qualitative information in your outcome description.

Related Practitioner Guide sections:

Latin America & Carribean Sub-Saharan Africa North Africa & Middle East South Asia South East Asia & Pacific Far-East Asia Eastern Europe & CIS (ex USSR) Western Europe North America & Canada Australasia