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Learn to Love Logic Models!
Many people feel something between apathy & hostility about logic models. As if they were invented by funders specifically to torment non-profit people.
But as a concise way to depict program theory, they can be super useful:
- As a way to learn about the worldviews of various stakeholders, and how these show up in our change initiatives.
- For grant writing purposes. Even a hand-sketched logic model helps answer almost every question on a grant application. Coherently. Making grant writing easier and cheques more likely.
- To design & focus evaluation. Use a logic model to analyze & select pivotal outcomes & linkages, then develop meaningful indicators & questions for measurement based on those.
- As a way to engage participants (clients). Chances are, few will want to look closely at your logic model, but some will & they will bring important insight. Sometimes in our haste to be sensitive to varying literacy levels, we neglect to offer opportunities for participants to engage at the program theory level. But who is better placed to offer insight & critique?
- To track evolutions in programs. Despite the orderly boxes, a logic model can be a living document, and should be dynamic, particularly when it is created early in an initiative. Iterations of a logic model can document progress & emerging understandings about an issue.
- To enable diverse groups to come together to collectively map an idea that is complex or difficult to define. Big picture thinkers will want to envision long-term outcomes. They can. Others will be interested in the practicalities of service delivery. They can, too! Still others will want to consider the links: how will we get from here to there? A logic model also allows for that. A secret: a logic model doesn’t have to be logical while it’s being built. It can be more of a sandbox where we can muck about in while we learn how to build a castle together.
- To identify opportunities for collaboration. Often seemingly dissimilar initiatives are similarly attempting to ‘reduce barriers’ or ‘increase access’, either as a primary objective or as a tributary to some other desired outcome. A logic model can identify these types of parallels, as well as ways initiatives can ‘nest’ with each other to reinforce mutually desired outcomes.