March 1, 2018
Logic models are tools that help you understand how effective programs are designed.
The Kellogg Foundation defines a logic model as, “a systematic and visual way to present and share your understanding of the relationships among the resources you have to operate your program, the activities you plan, and the changes or results you hope to achieve.”
At Elevate, we typically incorporate a theory of change in our logic models, to show how Activities and Changes directly relate to each other. We’ll talk more about what that means a little later in this post.
To help you get started, you can download Elevate’s Logic Model template below:
When putting together your own logic model, you can use either forward logic or reverse logic.
With forward logic:
With reverse logic:
These are your resources; what you have. Examples might include: time, money, reputation, board, expertise. These are resources you will always have, regardless of the specifics of your programs.
These are the key elements of your program, what you do and how you do it. So, for a mentoring program this might be that students meet with their mentor once a week, talk with their mentor twice a week and come to an entire org event once a month. It is what defines your program, the things you do!
This is the quantitative evidence of your program and the activities you implement. So, for a mentoring program this might be that the organization has 20 mentees, 25 mentors and 5 whole organization activities. These are quantitative and detail what are actually doing.
The theory of change is not necessarily part of your logic model – though we think incorporating the ideas behind a theory of change can help strengthen the content of your logic model.
Put simply, a theory of change is a researched-based, tested explanation for how your inputs lead to your outputs. How your program design will lead to the change you want. An effective theory of change relies on tested assumptions and an effective strategy.
The reason we added theory of change in our logic model is because it gives you a clear representation of where theory of change happens. Specifically, it occurs right on that line that divides Outputs from Outcomes; here, you’re illustrating your belief that your activities and outputs will lead to the outcomes (change) you want to see.
As explained by the Catholic relief services, “When theories of change are well captured in logical or results frameworks, program managers can use them to articulate what programs are trying to achieve and what they think needs to happen to get there.” Laying your logic model out using this framework this really explains how your program is designed to work. It also makes it very easy to change if something isn’t working. If you don’t achieve the outcomes you want, you need to understand if your theory of change is flawed or if you lack fidelity to your model.
Ideally, your theory of change is based on evidence that your activities will lead to the results you want. For example, if mentoring a student, you could have the mentor meet with the student once a month or once a week. To decide you would have to research the best practices to achieve the greatest results. This of course comes from a lot of research! You need to stay up to date about your issue area and the best practices in the field.
Finally, this section illustrates the change that comes about because of your work. It is what you achieve. It is really important that these are measurable. If they aren’t, there is no way to prove your impact.
Outcomes are split into three different levels.
First are short-term outcomes that are changes in knowledge, attitude or skills. For a mentoring organization an example of this would be 75% of students increase their reading scores by 2 points (as measured by the reading scores provided by the school).
Second are mid-term outcomes, which are changes in behavior or actions. For a mentoring organization an example of this would be 75% of students showing increased promotion and graduation rates relative to peers; improved self-efficacy (as measured by General Self-Efficacy Inventory).
Third and finally are long-term outcomes, which are changes in quality of life. For a mentoring organization an example of this would be 50% college enrollment or post-graduate training.
Now that we’ve reviewed all the parts of a logic model, you can use a logic model as a tool to improve and fine-tune your program design, and highlight these changes in your grant proposals!
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