Program Evaluation for the Homelessness Sector

Logic Models

This lesson explains how to develop your logic model.

Logic models are a way to demonstrate how your program or service operates and the goals it intends to achieve. You can think of them as a visual snapshot or the story of your program or service. Logic models can come in all shapes and forms, but the standard ingredients are:

1)     The target group of the program or service and the need it is addressing

  • Who is this program/service for? What is the need for this program/service?

2)     Resources or Inputs

  • What are the resources and supports required to operate the program/service? (E.g., Staff, program/service offerings, program/service materials)

3)     Activities

  • How does the program/service operate? What are the key activities of the program/service?

4)     Outputs

  • What are the tangible products, goods, and services resulting from the activities? (e.g., Number of clients served; number of programs/services offered) 

5)     Outcomes (including short- and long-term outcomes)

  • What does the program/service intend to achieve in the short-term and the long-term? What are the changes resulting from participation in the program/service’s activities?

Note the difference between outputs and outcomes. Outputs are the direct and measurable products of a program/service’s activities and services. Think of these as your numerical or quantitative indicators. Outcomes define the impact of the program/service and the goals that your program/service hopes to achieve.

Logic models use words and graphics to describe an IF/THEN relationship. 

IF we do X, THEN Y will occur.

You can also add arrows to make direct linkages across the categories. An example of the layout of a logic model is shown below:

Logic model template:

RESOURCES ACTIVITIES OUTPUTS OUTCOMES GOALS
Resources used by the program What the program does with the inputs to fulfill its goals The direct products of program activities Benefits for participants during and after program activities Desired short-, mid- or long-term result of the program
         

How to populate the logic model

The best way to create your logic model is through: 

  1. a review of program/service documentation; and 
  2. in discussion with program/service managers, staff, and clients.

Program/service documentation may include policy documents, legislative mandates, working papers, and memoranda of understanding.

Discussions with program/service managers, staff, and clients can take the form of focus groups and/or individual interviews.

It may be particularly helpful to talk to clients of your programs/services for the development of program/service outcomes. The information you gather from the document review and focus groups/interviews will help you populate the fields.

Several iterations of your logic model will be created and multiple meetings will be required to verify its contents. Logic models are a process and will require a decent amount of time. As well, as the program/service changes, the logic model will have to be changed. Therefore, it is important to review your logic model from time to time to ensure that it remains relevant.

Still find logic models confusing? This guide for nonprofits developed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will walk you through how to do program planning, implementation, and dissemination activities.