Logic Model Examples and Templates

An overview of logic models, including how they are used, how to build them, best practices, and free templates.

 min. read
December 11, 2023
Logic Model Examples and Templates

Logic Models 101 - An Overview, Examples, and How-To Summary

A logic model is a diagram that is used to plan and communicate how a set of desired outcomes will be achieved. They can also be used to identify assumptions, measure performance, and track progress towards an overall objective.

Logic models provide structure and discipline to program planning and execution. They serve as a roadmap, guiding the planning and evaluation process by clearly depicting how intended changes are expected to occur. In their most basic form, logic models include the inputs (such as resources or investments), the activities or interventions that the inputs support, the participants (or constituents affected), the immediate outputs (tangible products or services resulting from the activities), and the short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes (the changes or benefits resulting from the outputs). Overall, logic models help stakeholders to understand a program's goals, identify key components and assumptions, and establish a framework for monitoring and assessing the program's effectiveness.

A. How are Logic Models Used?

Logic models gained initial their popularity in public sector and research organizations, where they are used for program planning, budgeting, and performance management. More recently, logic models have been popularized in private sector organizations, where they are used effectively for strategic planning and execution.

Common uses of logic models include:

  1. Program planning & development
  2. Budgeting & capacity planning
  3. Program execution, including communication and training
  4. Program evaluation and performance management
  5. Program risk management
  6. Grant writing and fundraising
  7. Strategic management, including the planning and execution of key objectives
  8. Enterprise risk management

Overall, logic models help to convey a large amount of information in a single, intuitive graphic that shows how multiple investments and activities are expected to unfold into measurable outcomes.

B. Logic Model Example - School Breakfast Program

This article includes an example for logic model for a public sector program. Click here to view an alternate version of this article using a private sector model.

The image shown below was taken from Tracker Networks' Essential Strategy system but logic models can be created in presentation files and office productivity documents. Free downloadable templates are included a section below.

Example Logic Model Diagram for a fictitious school breakfast program, taken from the Essential Strategy system. All rights reserved.

The example above is for a school breakfast program. The program seeks to achieve many related short, medium and long-term outcomes including ultimately increasing the percentage of students who graduate. Key components of the model include:

  • Inputs: These are the resources, contributions, and investments that are necessary to implement the program. Inputs can include financial resources, staff time, expertise, equipment, technology, and partnerships.
  • Outputs: Outputs are the direct products or services that result from the program's activities. They are the tangible evidence of the program's implementation and often quantifiable. They typically consist of two components - the initiatives that will be undertaken and the participants involved.
  • Initiatives: Initiatives (or activities or projects) are the actions or processes that are undertaken to use the inputs. They represent what the program does to bring about the intended change. Examples of activities include workshops, training sessions, research, outreach programs, key projects, and service delivery. Descriptions of initiatives will often include target metrics, including the number of people trained, the number of workshops conducted, publications, and services provided.
  • Participants: The individuals or groups who directly engage in or are affected by the program's activities, contributing to the achievement of the desired outcomes.
  • Outcomes: Outcomes are the changes or benefits that result from the program. They are typically categorized as short-term (immediate results), intermediate (results that take more time to realize), and long-term (the ultimate goals of the program). Outcomes may include changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, condition, or status.
  • External Influences or Context: This component acknowledges the external factors that might influence the program's success or failure, such as economic conditions, social trends, or policy environment.
  • Assumptions: These are the beliefs about the program and its context that are accepted as true for the purposes of planning and implementation. Assumptions might include beliefs about how change happens, the program’s relevance to the target population, or the stability of funding sources.
  • Logic or Causal Links: This aspect demonstrates how the components are expected to relate to each other. It shows how inputs lead to activities, which produce outputs, leading to outcomes.
  • Feedback Loops: Some logic models also include feedback mechanisms to indicate how information obtained through the program will be used for continuous improvement.

A logic model is not just a description but also a tool for strategic planning, implementation, evaluation, and communication. It helps program managers, funders, and stakeholders to see the intended path of a program and to align expectations and objectives.

C. Putting Logic Models Into Practice

Here are some key tips and best practices to help you get the most out of your logic models and performance management process.

Plan in Both Directions

While the logical flow of a logic model diagram is from left to right, many users find it helpful to build diagrams from right to left, starting with the outcomes they want to achieve and working back to identify the investments and activities needed to realize them.

This method, often referred to as "backwards mapping," helps ensure that every aspect of the program is intentionally designed to achieve the specific outcomes. By first identifying the long-term goals and then determining the necessary intermediate and short-term outcomes, outputs, activities, and inputs needed to reach these goals, the program can be more strategically aligned and focused on achieving its objectives. This approach also facilitates a clear understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between different components of the program.

In practice, building logic models is an iterative process, working backwards and forwards to refine a program and plan to its essential elements.

Update and Assess Performance Regularly

All to often, logic models are used for planning and budgeting process, and then filed away never to be seen again. This is especially the case when logic models are built manually using desktop productivity software, as updating manual documents can be extremely tedious and time consuming.

Some of the greatest benefits of logic models come from "operationalizing" them by turning them into living frameworks that are used to communicate to program participants and measure actual outcomes against a plan. A regular review process can help to answer many fundamental questions about our programs. Is our program achieving what we set out to do? If not, why and what needs to change? Are our assumptions proving correct? If not, do we need to update our plans?

Link to Metrics

One important way to operationalize logic models is to track the key metrics related to our program. These can include key performance metrics for the outcomes we expect to achieve and key risk indicators for our assumptions and other events that could threaten our success.

Link to Risks

An important aspect of logic models that is often overlooked is the identification and active management of program risks. Risks are the uncertain events, that if they were to occur would impact our ability to achieve our plans and desired outcomes. They can be related to our assumptions, our program activities, our participants, and the external environment. By going beyond the external factors section of the logic model to preparing risk management plans proactively, we can achieve our outcomes more consistently and with lower overall costs.

Present to Key Stakeholders Regularly

Perhaps the most important best practice of all is to have the discipline to present logic models and interim results to leadership teams and other key stakeholders on a regular recurring schedule. Doing so will help promote a culture of transparency and accountability that will improve performance over time and make it easier to secure future investment. Early and continuous feedback will allow leadership teams to make course corrections faster when needed and when outcomes can still be affected. It will also help identify successes and opportunities for increased investment or resource optimization.

Consider Using Software

The right software tool, such as the Essential Strategy system Tracker Networks can greatly improve the planning and performance management process, while saving significant time and money. Logic models created manually in documents appear as isolated two-dimensional processes. In reality, many of the elements of logic models are linked to many other other objectives, initiatives, resources, programs etc. Software tools make it easy to manage and explore many-to-many relationships, while providing helpful automation including action plan reminders and updates, metric tracking, user access management, change tracking, reporting and more. A system like Essential Strategy can help bring logic models to life as a plan execution and coordination tool across a distributed team of professionals.

Click here for a demonstration or free trial of the Essential Strategy system today.

D. Free Logic Model Templates

If you would prefer to start with manual logic model diagrams, we have included templates below, in two different file formats.