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How to Create a Nonprofit Logic Model

Logic models have been used for decades to evaluate the effectiveness of nonprofits, human services, and public health programs. These visual models clearly define a program’s inputs, outputs, and outcomes, and align specific activities with overarching program goals and objectives.

Nonprofits use logic models to assist with program planning and evaluation, as well as stakeholder engagement, reporting, and broader communications.

What is a Logic Model?

Logic models offer a shared, visual framework for your organization that clearly defines how activities, resources, and outcomes connect. This framework can be implemented when you’re designing a new program, implementing an initiative, evaluating your program, or communicating with key stakeholders – such as funding agencies, board members, and prospective donors.

How to Create a Logic Model

Step 1: Name the problem.

Consult your stakeholders, government strategic plans, or thought leaders in your field to define the specific problem that you’re trying to solve, and who is most affected by that problem.

Step 2: Plot Your Inputs.

Program inputs are the resources you will invest to solve your problem: staffing, volunteers, office space, supplies, technology, software tools, transportation, advertising and public relations, in strategic partnerships, funding, research base, equipment, etc.

Step 3: Plan Your Outputs.

Start by listing the activities and actions you will take to achieve your program’s objectives, as well as the key audiences that are impacted by each action.

Consider your annual calendar and predicted workflows, and begin to organize your outputs in sequential order. Grouping similar activities together into strategic clusters can help you create alignment with outcomes.

Ensure that your outputs are achievable and in alignment with your inputs.

Step 4: Determine Program Outcomes.

Clearly define your short-, mid-, and long-term goals based on the inputs and outputs you’ve previously described. Express the results that your program intends to achieve, focusing on changes in learning, actions and behaviors, or conditions.

Examples of Logic Models:

Creating a logic model helps nonprofits clarify strategic priorities. Once it’s time to evaluate a program, logic models help draw the line between inputs, outputs, and measurable outcomes, proving program accountability and causality.

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