(scroll down to download fillable logic model tool)
Outcomes and evaluation are key components in today’s proposal requests. Using a logic model will ensure you properly demonstrate these elements, thus giving you the best chance of being funded. Donors want clarification of the relationship between their investments and the activities, outputs, and anticipated outcomes of the grant they will support. The fundamental framework and performance measurements of the proposal need to be communicated specifically and clearly. This can be easily demonstrated using the logic model, which an increasing number of foundation and corporate donors are requiring. A systematic and visual way to present a planned program while showing the underlying assumptions of the proposal is the function of this tool. I often ask the participants in my workshops why engineers and architects design before they build, but grant writers begin writing without even using a blueprint. As writers, administrators, and researchers, we should take a page from the engineers and architects.
When I convene a grant writing team, my main goal is to eliminate confusion and future misunderstanding of the proposal we want funded. I present a one-page logic model of the entire plan. This single sheet allows us to visualize our path via inputs, outputs, involved staff, process indicators for success, and outcomes. The benefit of this is that my team can visualize the entirety of the project, get on the same page, and consider what is needed to realize the end goal.
Once the logic model is constructed, two questions remain:
- External Factors – What variables may have an effect on the program, but cannot be changed by the team or program?
- Assumptions – What are the premises – based on theories, research, and knowledge – that support the connections between the activities, and upon which the project’s success depends?
A winning proposal explains the assumptions and the external factors that could assist or impede the project. Doing so reassures the donor that challenges and contingencies have been considered and will be addressed throughout the implementation phase.
So, what does a logic model look like?
In this tool, the inputs list all of the materials and needs to start the program. The output boxes define each activity to be undertaken, and by whom. The next step is to identify each of the outcomes for these activities. As an example, if we want to decrease obesity in a group of patients, the short-term outcome would be indication of an attitudinal change in the way the group thinks about food. The mid-term outcome might be that the group is now choosing a healthier diet. The long-term outcome would be demonstrated by weight loss. For more information about logic models, visit the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Some of the descriptions for a logic model are: road map, pathway, blueprint for change, or theories for change. This visual path is the transformation toward success that a project is proposing. Teams can visualize at a glance what success looks like at every stage of the grant. Once these are answered – with help from the logic model – we can begin writing the proposal.
For another critical tool to help plan specific project tasks, check out our Grant Design Chart.
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