What is a Logic Model?
A logic model is a program planning tool that helps an organization, social business or group define important factors to launch a new program, product, or service. It can be used by a large, mature organization to plan a new program and can also be used by a small grassroots organization or social venture that is just beginning to plan how they will execute their mission. The logic model is a visual representation of a team’s vision of how and why their program, product or service will work. The flow of the logic model represents how that working assumption will be proven. It maps out the thought process or logic behind program execution from beginning to end.
How are Logic Models Used?
The beauty of logic models are their flexibility and adaptability. They be very granular, mapping out each and every measurable detail, or they can be much more general, allowing the flow to be captured in a more abstract way. They can also be adapted to key stakeholder audiences like funders, staff, board members or investors. For example, a logic model can be used by a team to attract foundation support for a new program; the logic model can be tailored to clearly articulate the organization’s gaps and resource needs which will allow the funder to see how their support will enable the organization to fulfill their mission. Alternatively, the logic model can be used to ensure that all board members and staff are on the same page with respect to a new program they are undertaking. Another application of a logic model framework is impact evaluation; the process of “looking to the future” can help an organization or team work backwards from their end goal to the basics of launching their program. This allows the team to put evaluation metrics in place well before the program has launched priming them for success in measurement and evaluation.
TIPS: The Johns Hopkins University Center for Communications Programs suggests breaking out inputs into the following buckets: Human Resources, Office Supplies and Field Resources. They also suggest that this step can be taken one step further by having a Necessities List and Wish List. This additional layer allows the organization to make decisions about bottom line needs versus less essential needs.
Components of a Logic Model
- Theory of Change or Problem Statement – while the statement is typically brief, adequate time and thought needs to be allocated to define what the organization or team plans to accomplish.
- Inputs – the resources needed to execute the mission; inputs can be both tangible and intangible and broken out in whatever way is most appropriate for the organization.
- Activities – the inputs in action; they effectively describe program execution; Examples activities are: vaccines administered, public awareness campaigns delivered, classes taught, performances conducted, artifacts protected.
- Outputs – the results of the actions in measurable form – they are what is being counted. Example: We supplied 10,000 packets of supplementary food to the children under 3 years of age.
- Short Term Outcomes – usually spanning within a year time frame, they are the objectives of the program; they represent some sort of knowledge or learning that takes place.
- Long Term Outcomes – ranging from 2-5 years, they are the objectives of the program; they articulate some sort of action or behavior change. Example: We lowered the cases of acute malnutrition among children under three years of age.
- Impact – the ultimate goal(s) of the program, product, or service; it represents the important change that the Theory of Change aims to prove; usually defined in terms of changes in conditions (social, governmental, environmental, civic).
TIPS: Segmenting outcomes based on time (short-term, mid-term, and long-term) can be useful in developing achievable milestones for mission fulfillment.
USE: SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) goals to break out the program’s objectives.
USE: An Impact Statement to sum up several program goals and provide an overarching North Star for the organization to refer to.
- Avoid the “Kitchen Sink Effect”- Build the framework from right to left starting with the ultimate goal(s) and working back to smaller details; this will prevent the framework from being overloaded with non-essential information.
- Measure What Counts – Don’t highlight outputs – or process indicators – to demonstrate organizational impact or mission fulfillment; while they are important, they are only a piece of the puzzle.
- Keep Things Clear – If several programs are being presented in a single logic model they should be layered, clearly indicating what goals, objectives, activities, input, and outputs are tied to each layer or program.
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