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Five Steps to Creating a Winning Logic Model

I had the esteemed pleasure of presenting at the Grant Professionals Conference (www. for the second year in a row (hence the delay in this post). Last year, I presented the session "Logic Model LIVE!". It was so popular that I did an encore presentation for not 1.5 hours but 3 full hours. A three-hour presentation is some serious commitment. It shows how serious (or maybe crazy) I am about logic models.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you will have come across a presentation or two about logic models. It's because I believe doing the work of a logic model is the difference between a winning proposal and an unfunded proposal. When I serve as a federal reviewer I can always tell who did the work and who didn't. That's why when it comes to our clients at Think and Ink Grants - we do the tough work of completing a logic model. :)

In the last newsletter, we talked about the holy grail of grant writing: how to write goals, outcomes, and outputs. In this edition, we'll break down the steps to completing a logic model and explain how outcomes and outputs inform logic models.

It is never easy to break down really complex theory in less than 3,000 characters, however, I will do my best to be brief and to the point. For greater insight, our website We will have training available starting in the new year as opportunities to dive deeper.

Step 1: Inputs. What resources are you bringing to the table to support this program? This can include things like venues, staff, curriculum, etc. or any other resources that will support the program.

Step 2: Activities. In logic models, each prior step informs the next step. In this case, what input-supported activities will you plan to execute? In the simplest form, I love when activities start with action words like:

  • Teach students

  • Educate parents

  • Facilitate discussions

Do you see the education theme? It's because logic models are so popular within education.

Step 3: Outputs. What countable items will your activities are producing? For lack of a better term, they are “widgets” that you can measure year over year.

Some examples include:

  • # of children served

  • # of women supported

  • # of partners engaged

  • # of jobs created

  • # of people feed

Outputs do not include anything regarding changes in the attitudes or behavior of those you serve. (Save this for the outcomes).

Step 4: Outcomes. What outcomes or changes in attitude or behavior do you expect your programming to have on those you serve?

Some examples of outcomes include:

  • Increase GPA’s

  • Improve financial literacy

  • Decrease obesity

  • Lessen social determinants of health

Most outcomes start with words like increase, improve, or similar words. Outcomes can be measured in the short-term (short-term outcomes), intermediate-term (intermediate-term outcomes), or long-term (long-term outcomes). How and when outcomes are measured totally depends on the organization and how long it will take to see the proposed change. For example, a survey sent right after a course can be seen as a short-term outcome for some organizations. However, surveys sent over the course of six months can also be seen as a short-term outcome if the overall time horizon of the project is 10 years (with long-term outcomes also approaching ten years. Long-term outcomes are commonly seen in work that will take a long time to see the benefit, like systems change or helping a city improve homelessness or similar causes.

Step 5: Impact. Similarly, but not to be confused with your vision statement, the impact is the overall contribution your program will have on society.



About Shavonn Richardson, MBA, GPC

As a former nonprofit leader and grantmaker, Shavonn has over 18 years of experience delivering practical, real-world advice to nonprofit leaders across the county. She is one of only 17 Grant Professional Certified (GPC) grant professionals in Georgia. Shavonn serves on the Board of Directors of the Grant Professionals Association and is a Sustainer member of the Junior League of Atlanta.

Shavonn earned the GPC (Grant Professional Certified) credential from the Grant Professionals Certification Institute in 2020 and is a Grant Professionals Association Approved Trainer. Shavonn earned a BBA from Howard University in Washington, DC, and an MBA from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

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