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.