Congratulations, you clicked on this article even after reading the title! Logic models have received a bad rap over the years. Social sector leaders participating in my workshops often come to the room expressing doubt about logic models or fail to see the value in the tool. Sometimes it is the very word “logic” and the complex ways these tools have been presented that result in a leader’s dismissal of a logic model. If you don’t regularly use logic models or typically run away at the mention of their name, I hope to provide a different perspective. If you are a fan of the logic model, maybe this will give you further support for their use in your organization.
At its core, a logic model summarizes a program’s whys, whats, and hows on a single sheet of paper. This powerful tool links organizational resources (inputs) to what it does (activities and outputs), to who it desires to impact (participants and audiences), and to what it hopes to achieve or change (outcomes). For organizations just beginning to use logic models, I recommend the W.K. Kellogg Foundations Framework. The Kellogg approach provides the simplest and most flexible framework. The figure above is a sample logic model using the Kellogg Foundation Framework.
Logic models are simple and effective tools to support a sustainable high-performance culture within a government organization. It can be the foundational support for all planning, resource management, communication, evaluation, and fundraising activities. Here are my top five reasons why your organization must have a logic model.
1. It spurs success. Positive psychology research reveals that when humans mindfully focus on the potential to achieve what we set out to achieve, we become more intentionally engaged in what we do. This will give a clarity of intentional promises, which will lead to taking intentional actions that will lead more likely to intentional results. The process of developing and regularly reviewing your logic models helps leaders achieve clarity on what they desire to achieve. The goals of social sector organizations are more than to perform a series of activities and tasks. Instead, their missions are to meaningfully change lives and change circumstances for those they serve. A logic model makes leaders intentional about the desired outcomes they want to achieve as a result of their activities. Logic models clearly state what an organization is trying to accomplish, such as improving educational opportunities, improving family functioning, or decreasing crime in a certain community. This act of clarity of outcomes, and then expressing what the organization does to achieve these outcomes activates an intentionality that will lead to more intentional results. Without this tool and process, organizations run the risk of spinning their wheels and not fully accomplishing their mission as fast as they would otherwise.
2. It saves time and money. Going after a grant can cost organizations hours of staff resources. Winning the wrong grant can cost organizations years of wasted activities and efforts that have nothing to do with the organization’s mission. A logic model provides a guide for current and future program planning. If a new program or grant opportunity is presented, decision makers can refer to the logic model and decide if this particular opportunity is aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives. If the answer is “no”, leaders quickly move on. If the answer is “yes”, leaders can confidently move forward in developing the new program or writing the grant because the opportunity will likely advance their mission.
3. It helps raise money. A thorough, simple logic model will prove invaluable to development officers and grant writers. It clearly communicates the goal of the organization and what the organization does. A logic model provides evidence that the organization is strategic in how it uses its resources. The logic model describes the precise return on investment it strives to deliver to funders, and the logic model itself can be used as a communication tool to educate potential donors on all facets of the organization.
4. It’s the foundation of evaluation efforts. The logic model provides the framework for selecting the ideal success measures for an organization. It is neither possible nor necessary to measure all of an organization’s outputs and outcomes. Logic models help leaders avoid guessing games about which measures are most important, and support those leaders as they guide their organizations into the future. They provide a measure of confidence for leaders who want to quantify their organization’s story, guiding the process for selecting success measures and capturing data that illustrates the organization’s impact.
5. It’s a sign of high-performance. Grantmakers, donors, and co-collaborators want to invest in and partner with organizations who have a proven track record of fiscal accountability, effective programs, and outstanding services. Having a clear and concise logic model communicates to these potential partners what your organization is about, what it is trying to accomplish, and why they should partner with you. It demonstrates a serious commitment to your cause and it is a sign of a strategic, cohesive operation. Just like the kind of car a salesman drives is often a reflection of his success, the presentation of an established logic model is a sign of a serious and effective nonprofit.
I recommend that organizations start with an organization-wide logic model and then to create sub-logic models for each program. These tools should be reviewed at least annually (I would recommend monthly) to ensure that the organization is still working towards achieving the outcomes it has set out to achieve. If you are looking for more insight on how to incorporate logic models into a high-performing organization, read more in Impact & Excellence: Data-driven strategies for aligning mission, culture, and performance in nonprofit and government organizations.
Need assistance with developing your logic model? Measurement Resources is here to help! We offer customized workshops designed to get your logic model and performance measures established quickly.
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