The Sutcliffe Group
A program is a system with inputs, processes, outputs (tangibles) and outcomes (impacts on clients/ members) -- with ongoing feedback among these parts. We would use a systems perspective like this to design a program so that it is set up for evaluation. Inputs are the resources needed to run the program, e.g., money, facilities, members, program staff, volunteers, etc. Processes are how program services are delivered, e.g., athletes are trained, coaches participate in clinics, children play in playgrounds, association members are supported, etc. The outputs are the units of service, e.g., number of athletes / coaches trained, children playing, or members in the association. Outcomes are the impacts on athlete / coach / children, e.g., more podium performances, more diversity in coaching staff, safe and healthy development for children, increased effectiveness among members, etc. The outcomes are the "compass" for the program and help it keep its direction. This is why funders are increasingly requesting outcomes-based evaluations from nonprofits such as sport, recreation and physical activity organizations.