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Why Should Nonprofits Create Logic Models?

Why Should Nonprofits Create Logic Models?

In our last blog post, we discussed program theories, what they are, and how to define and capture your own program theory. As previously mentioned, another way to articulate your program theory is to create a logic model.

What is a Logic Model?

A logic model is a tool that has been used for more than 20 years by program managers and evaluators to describe the effectiveness of their programs. The model describes logical linkages among program resources, activities, outputs, audiences, and short-, intermediate-, and long-term outcomes related to a specific problem or situation.

Logic models illustrate a sequence of cause-and-effect relationships—a systems approach to communicate the path toward a desired result.

How can a Logic Model Help You?

A Logic model is a systematic and visual way to present the perceived relationships among:

  • the resources you have to operate your organization;
  • the activities you plan to provide;
  • the goals, changes, or results you hope to achieve.

A logic model is useful for nonprofits in a variety of ways. It can be used to help determine your program theory or identify your outcomes. It can also be used when writing grant applications to help you lay out a program’s or project’s resources and goals for funding.

A Basic Logic Model

The example below is set up to help identify program outcomes.  You can change the headings depending on what you are trying to discover with your logic model.  A logic model is a very handy tool for helping you to organize your thoughts and present information in a linear fashion.

Inputs Activities Outputs

Outcomes Short-Term

Outcomes Intermediate

Outcomes Long-Term

What We Invest What We Do What We Produce Short-Term Results (Learning) Mid-Term Results (Action) Long-Term Results (Conditions)






In addition to a logic model, an outcomes model framework is another visual tool that is helpful for organizations who are attempting to identify their program outcomes.  Next month, we will explore the outcomes model framework and how completing the framework will help agencies prove the results of their programs.


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