In your pursuit of grant funding, you might run into the term “Logic Model” and wonder to yourself, “What on earth is that?” A logic model is a way of looking at your ministry, of describing your program, that shows a clear progression between the activities you plan to do and the results that you want them to accomplish.
Usually, if the grant application requires a logic model, they will provide an example and a format. Logic models like the one below are typically represented as a grid with four or more columns. They are read from left to right.
What’s the logic behind your ministry?
Here’s a sample logic model pulled from a real grant application. Different grantors will have slight variations on this theme, but it captures the key concepts.
The first column tells the readers what inputs or resources you are going to be deploying for the proposed program. You can get pretty detailed on this, and go into the infrastructure that supports the program, or you can pare it down and point to the specific items that are necessary for the program. For a food pantry, the necessary inputs might be food, volunteers, educational materials, refrigerated storage, funding, and location.
The second column tells the grantor the activities that you’ll be performing. So a food pantry might say that you’ll be meeting the need for food and clothing for the poor in your community by operating a food pantry and clothes closet that will be open on Monday and Saturday every week from 9:00 until 12:00. This will enable you to serve members of the community by giving them supplemental food and clothing that meets their immediate needs. You might also say that you’ll be doing counseling with clients to help them identify long-term strategies that will help them to get their lives in better order.
The third column lists your proposed outputs. Outputs are the activities that you will carry out with the resources that you listed in the inputs column. So for your food pantry you might put, Provide 2,000 meals to 150 families. This should also describe the timeframe during which those outputs are going to take place. So you are planning to distribute the meals over the course of the next 12 months.
The fourth column describes the outcomes of your ministry. Outcomes are different from outputs, because they are supposed to describe the effects that your ministry has on the community that you serve. They are often harder to measure because the outcomes do not happen immediately. So for the food pantry example, a desired outcome might be that 80% of the clients have access to the food they need to meet their dietary needs. Or it might be that 60% of clients no longer need food assistance after one year. Determining outcomes will require you to do follow-up interviews with past clients to discover the effects your ministry had on their long-term well-being.
A way to be intentional about your ministry
Logic models are often difficult to put together because it forces you to think about the long-term impact of your ministry. How are you changing lives and how do you know what kind of change is taking place? You might be tempted to say something like, “We feed people. Isn’t that enough?” Honestly, it might be, but if that’s the case than this kind of funding is not going to be a good fit for you.
Putting together a logic model can help your ministry more clearly understand what you’re trying to accomplish in the lives of your clients and assess whether what you’re doing is actually working. This is a good thing. Writing it down also helps communicate your vision to potential funders in way that shows that you’ve thought about these important issues.