Today's post is contributed by Kristal Johnson of and presenter of the NPA training The Grants Needs Assessment: Connecting Your Data and Your Nonprofit Story.

Some of the most frequently asked questions I receive are:

  1. What is the correct way to construct a logic model?
  2. What are the main parts of a logic model?
  3. Why do funders expect logic models?

Before tackling these questions let’s go over the purpose of a logic model. The logic model in the grant proposal is the visual representation of the process your organization will use to produce the desired results pertaining to your program.

Using a logic model is another way for the funding source to see how your program will work.  As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  In reviewing grant proposals, human eyes are naturally drawn to charts, diagrams, and tables.  When you include a logic model within your grant proposal, it stands out.  Logic models summarize complex information into an easily digestible message.

Back to the logic model’s most frequently asked questions:

1) What is the correct way to construct a logic model?

There really isn’t a correct way to construct a logic model. You can find templates online and many examples from other nonprofit organizations. What you will find from searching the Internet is that there may be similarities in logic models, but no two are alike. Everyone has their preferred method and style of logic model which best conveys their process.  Even though the styles may be different, all logic models have the same parts.  It is important to choose a model that fits your needs and diagrams the information you want to capture.  Show how your process achieves your goals in one picture to an outsider who knows nothing.

2) What are the main parts of the logic model? 

There are four main parts to each logic model:

# Parts Description
1 Inputs Resources consumed by the program: ex. Staff time, equipment, supplies
2 Activities Explains what your program will do to get results
3 Outputs Measureable program activities, ex.  Number of participants served
4 Outcomes The benefit your program will bring as a result of program activities.

People frequently get confused about the difference between output and outcomes. An easy way to remember the difference is that an output is a program element; an outcome is a program benefit.

3) Why do funders expect logic models?

Not all grant proposals require logic models.  But when they do, it is to let the funder know a very important message about your organization – how it can work.  When you include complex elements in your grant proposal like logic models, it lets the funder know you have a well thought out plan for your program.  It lends to your credibility.  Logic models are appreciated by the reader because it’s a snapshot of your intentions and may answer questions that were not addressed in the grant proposal itself.

The more specific information you can include about your program, the better.  Funders want specific details on the process your program will take to get results. Logic models are a great tool to include in your grant proposal’s evaluation section.  After all, they are providing you money to do work.  Logic models are another way to sell your idea.

Headshot - Kristal JohnsonKristal Johnson is a certified grant writer and program evaluator who specializes in helping non-profits achieve success and build communities.  She works collaboratively with non-profits in the areas of prospect research, development writing, and program evaluation. Kristal enjoys helping non-profits discover new opportunities to support program development. Kristal has worked with educational institutions, community service organizations, and child welfare agencies. She is a member of the Grants Professionals Association and a Grant Peer Reviewer with the United Way of Greater Houston. Learn more about her services at presenter of the NPA training The Grants Needs Assessment: Connecting Your Data and Your Nonprofit Story.