Tips & Tools for Building Your Logic Model

The great Yogi Berra once said “If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to know when you get there?”

This month we are working on logic models with our Social Impact Collaborative* cohort. A logic model provides a picture of how an organization works and the key assumptions underlying program or project design. Logic models have been used by thousands of non-profits at various stages of program implementation to capture data on impact.

impactED_10-2017_Jan-25-M.EdlowA logic model has two overarching sections:

  • Planned Work. Planned work describes what resources you think you need to implement your program or project and what you plan to do.

Learn more about the key components of Planned Work here.

  • Intended Results. Intended results include all of the program’s desired results, including the direct product of activities (outputs), short-term and medium-term outcomes, as well as long-term impact.

Learn more about the key components of Intended Outcomes here.


Below are a few considerations to keep in mind when designing a logic model for your program, project, campaign, or initiative.

  • Create a simple and straightforward approach. Remember the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Developing a relatively simple and straightforward logic model can help you clarify key programmatic priorities, streamline data collection efforts, and make communication about impact even clearer.
  • Use logic models to build shared understanding and investment. Oftentimes, external evaluators will build organization’s logic models for them, which is a missed opportunity. Creating a logic model can be a powerful way to build investment and shared understanding of impact within your team. We recommend that you include other stakeholders in the conversation about your logic model.
  • Work backwards and focus on change. Start by considering the ultimate impact you are trying to create. Ensure your outcomes and impact start with action verbs. What will change as a result of your program/project/initiative? Then work backwards to ensure alignment throughout the entire logic model.
  • Develop key program pathways. When building your logic model, think about connections between the different aspects of your program and group accordingly. For example, certain types of activities may group together to lead to specific short- and long-term outcomes. Oftentimes, logic models have various pathways of impact aligned to elements of the program’s design.
  • Surface assumptions and conditions. Logic models can surface assumptions undergirding the program/project/initiative design. As you move from one stage of the logic model to the next, consider what needs to be in place to ensure the connection/change occurs. Indeed, building a logic model is an iterative process. As you develop outcomes, revisit the resources to ensure you have the necessary supports to realize the desired change. Ask yourself the following: Are the resources sufficient to conduct the activities and produce the necessary outputs? Are the outputs sufficient to lead to the outcomes? What assumptions are we making about the quality of outputs or the conditions surrounding them? Are the outcomes sufficient to produce the desired impact? What other outcomes might be necessary to lead to this impact?
  • Recognize that this is a process. As a program grows and develops, so does its logic model. A program logic model is merely a snapshot of a program at one point in time; it is not the program with its actual flow of events and outcomes. A logic model is a work in progress, a working draft that can be refined as the program develops.

Here are some resources/tools to help you develop your logic model:

*The Social Impact Collaborative is being funded by the William Penn Foundation, but the opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the William Penn Foundation.