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Why I love logic models and why every nonprofit needs (at least) one!

Updated: Apr 25

It might surprise many of you that know me well (since I take a pretty fluid approach to my work), but I love logic models! Now, I am not suggesting that logic models are static or linear, because a good logic model should, in fact, be developed using an iterative process, and, when done correctly, the logic model should be amendable to what we learn from a program as we are busy implementing our approach. Learning is key to both quality improvement and increased program efficacy, and learning should be the driving force behind any evaluation.


So, maybe I am drawn to logic models because I am a visual person or maybe it is because of my background in community planning. Whatever it is, logic models are a concise representation of what we hope to accomplish through our work, and they help to ensure that our resources and our activities align with our desired outcomes. I’m going to say that again. A logic model illustrates how our activities align with our desired outcomes and helps us to connect the dots between our resources, activities, and the change we want to see.


Think about it for a minute. How many times have we gone through the motions of developing and implementing a new program only to later wonder: exactly how are these activities helping the population that we serve? And, more importantly, how will we know when we have achieved the desired result (I’ll get into this in more detail in a later newsletter)?


Unlike other approaches to program development, a logic model, breaks down what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Imagine that! This is why a logic model is a great tool to use as you begin planning your programs. It will help you decide what resources you need to commit to your program and the activities and participation in those activities that are necessary to achieve your desired change.


By laying these core pieces of your program out nice and neat, anyone should be able to pick up your logic model and, with a quick glance, immediately understand the program’s framework. Since they won’t need a cumbersome, text heavy document to grasp the fundamentals of your program, a logic model is a fantastic communication tool for presenting your work to community members, internal staff, funders, and other stakeholders.


That ties back to another reason why I love logic models. Funders are investing in results, and they want to know that you have spent time intentionally thinking through how you will deliver those results. Some funders are even requiring that applicants include a logic model with their grant applications. And (bonus points here), if you are working with a grant writer, whether internal or external to your organization, that grant writer will absolutely love you if you provide them with a logic model because it will help them structure the application. Trust me, I’ve asked!


You are probably wondering when you should create a logic model? The answer is simple. You should begin to develop your logic model at the start of program development because it can support the planning process and, again, ensure that what and how you do something is connected to why you do it. If you’re already knee deep in program implementation, don’t worry, it is not too late to develop a logic model, and I promise that you can still reap the benefits!


To sum it all up, logic models support communication, program planning, fundraising, and I’m sure I could think of even more reasons to convince you that you need a logic model, but I’m trying to keep this brief. And, while this newsletter focused on logic models for programs, logic models can also be used at the organization level to help you stay focused on your mission.


Want to learn more about logic models? Need assistance creating a logic model for your program or organization? The time to create your logic model is now. Set up a free consultation to see how we can serve your nonprofit and "drop" by our new evaluation page on our website to download a free logic model template.

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