Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

What do Yogi Berra and your program’s success have in common?

As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”

So what does that have to do with your program?

Look at it this way. If you were planning a road trip, what’s the first question you would need to answer? You would need to know where you wanted to go, right? Once you know where you want to go, you need to figure out how to get there. You need a road map. Think of a logic model as the road map for your program, a tool that helps ensure you don’t, in Yogi’s words, “wind up somewhere else.”

The logic model addresses three key questions:

  • Where are you going?
  • How will you get there?
  • How will you know when you’ve arrived?

It graphically displays connections between your program resources, activities, outputs and outcomes. Think of it as a picture of what you plan to do and what you will achieve.






The logic model can and should be used in all phases of a program’s life cycle, from planning to implementation to evaluation. During the planning phase, the logic model can be used to strengthen the program by identifying gaps in logic and selecting activities that are clearly tied to desired outcomes. For example, if your program activities are focused on developing children’s reading skills, don’t expect their math scores to improve. During implementation, the logic model can be used as a management tool to monitor program activities. A program that isn’t being implemented as you intended is unlikely to produce the results you expect. Finally, the logic model helps you decide what data you need to collect in order to track progress and show results.

Successful programs have logic models and know how to use them. In fact, many foundations and public sector funders now require program logic models in grant proposals. Having good intentions to change the world is great. Pairing those good intentions with a road map to achieve results is better.

Got Outcomes?

Let’s face it. A lot of people are afraid of program evaluation. There are countless explanations we use to rationalize not evaluating our programs. How often have you heard (or said):

  • “I’m not an evaluator.”
  • “Evaluation is expensive. We don’t have those kinds of resources.”
  •  “Participants love the program, so it must be working.”
  •  “Our program is complicated; it’s impossible to measure outcomes.”

To make matters worse, lack of staff expertise in evaluation is sometimes accompanied by fear that perhaps the program won’t show the results we expect. Then what?

I understand the reluctance and the fear.

Yet as concepts like results-based accountability become the norm and funders increasingly require evaluation plans in grant proposals, it’s important to step back and consider what can be gained from program evaluation. Most importantly, evaluation provides critical information about whether or not your program is achieving desired results.

We all know resources are limited. Isn’t it better to know sooner rather than later if those resources are being used effectively? And for those whose work focuses on our most vulnerable populations, there is even greater urgency to ensure that programs produce positive outcomes.

So the next time you’re tempted to fall back on all the reasons you can’t evaluate your program, think about all you have to gain if you do. Remind yourself that evaluating your program and tracking your outcomes will pay off by helping you to:

  • Clarify program objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? How will you define success?
  • Solidify support and raise money. People–including funders–want to support successful efforts. Demonstrating positive outcomes is an invaluable fund-raising tool.
  • Monitor your program. Are you really doing what you said you would do?
  • Make informed decisions about program changes. Do you need to alter the program or make mid-course corrections? Better to make those changes before the opportunity to get back on track is lost.
  • Identify unintended program effects. Are there “side effects” that need to be addressed?
  • Assess overall effectiveness. Did the program work as intended? Are program recipients better off? If so, how?
  • Assess program cost versus benefit(s). Do the program outcomes justify the investment?
  • Do even more good. If you can show your program works, you have the opportunity to increase your reach and broaden your impact.

So, got outcomes?

All Creatures Magazine

The Grey Muzzle Organization and Lisa’s work on behalf of senior dogs was featured in the winter edition of All Creatures magazine.

Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) 2017 Management Conference

Lisa was a featured speaker at the SAWA Management Conference in Long Beach, CA, where she presented “Planning for Success: Using Logic Models as a Road Map.” The session helped animal welfare professionals to work smarter and use evaluation as a tool for continuous improvement. She explained the importance of logic models and how they increase a program’s likelihood of success; discussed the ways in which logic models can support program planning, implementation and evaluation; and helped attendees to develop their own logic models for planned or current programs.

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