Program Logic Models and Theory of Change | Kellogg Foundation | 2004

From the program evaluation community, with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation …

The program logic model is defined as a picture of how your organization does its work – the theory and assumptions underlying the program. A program logic model links outcomes (both short- and long-term) with program activities/processes and the theoretical assumptions/principles of the program. (p. iii)

The Why and Why of the Logic Model

The most basic logic model is a picture of how you believe your program will work. It uses words and/or pictures to describe the sequence of activities thought to bring about change and how these activities are linked to the results the program is expected to achieve. [p. 1]

Kellogg 2004 Figure 2

Descriptions of Three Approaches to Logic Models

1. Theory Approach Models emphasize the theory of change that has influenced the design and plan for the program. These logic models provide rich explanation of the reasons for beginning to explore an idea for a given program. [….] They are built from the “big picture” kinds of thoughts and ideas that went into conceptualizing your program. They are coming to be most often used to make the case in grant proposals. Models describing the beginnings of a program in detail are most useful during program planning and design.

2. Outcomes Approach Models focus on the early aspects of program planning and attempt to connect the resources and/or activities with the desired results in a workable program. These models often subdivide outcomes and impact over time to describe short-term (1 to 3 years), long-term (4 to 6 years), and impact (7 to 10 years) that may result from a given set of activities. [….] Models that outline the approach and expectations behind a program’s intended results are most useful in designing effective evaluation and reporting strategies.

3. Activities Approach Models pay the most attention to the specifics of the implementation process. A logic model of this type links the various planned activities together in a manner that maps the process of program implementation. These models describe what a program intends to do and as such are most useful for the purposes of program monitoring and management. This type provides the detailed steps you think you will need to follow to implement your program. […] [pp. 9-10]

Developing a Theory-of-Change Logic Model For Your Program

As you engage in the process of creating your program logic model, your organization will systematically address these important program planning and evaluation issues:

  • Description of the change strategy that your program supports.
  • Definition of the problem you are attempting to address.
  • Quantification of the scope of the needs or assets that make the case for your selection of the problem you address.
  • Acknowledgement of the factors that may influence your ability to create change in your community.
  • Application of best practice research that supports plausible solution strategies for identified problem area.
  • Statement of your assumptions about why your selected strategies will work in your community in the ways you described. [p. 27]

Constructing a Program Theory

Exercise 3 Uses the Theory-of-Change Template

Kellogg 2004 Exercise 3

What problems are you attempting to solve or what issues are you striving to address? A well-constructed program theory points toward your program’s eventual effectiveness. Begin your problem statement explaining concisely the issue you will address, stating the issue either as a community problem or asset. Your theory-of-change logic model will be built upon this statement, which illustrates how the program will function and what it expects to achieve in your community. It is smart to refer to research about your program’s problem or issue in your statement; Internet searches can provide other successful program or “best practice” information. [p. 29]

What Parts of Your Program Will Be Evaluated?

Kellogg (2004) Program Evaluation

W.K. Kellogg Foundation | Logic Model Development Guide: Using Logic Models to Bring Together Planning, Evaluation and Action | 2004 at

From coauthors of the report …

How are Logic Models Different from Action Plans?

Logic models are often confused with “action plans.” While there are some overlaps, the difference is subtle but very important.

An action plan is a manager’s guide for running the project. It shows, often through a set of program objectives and a timeline or task outline, what staff or others need to do to implement a project (e.g., “hire outreach worker,” “launch media campaign,” “revise curricula”).

A logic model illustrates the presumed effects of hiring an outreach worker, launching a media campaign, or using revised curricula. (For example, “trained outreach workers lead to more information about AIDS getting dispensed in a high-risk neighborhood; increased contacts with outreach workers leads to a greater proportion of hard-to-reach clients coming in for treatment”).

These hypotheses about program effects are described in a logic model, are tested in a “theory-based” evaluation, and lead to “lessons learned.” If program planners don’t have any hypotheses guiding them, their potential for learning from the initiative is low, and the program is probably in trouble.

“Everything You Wanted to Know About Logic Models But Were Afraid to Ask” | Connie C. Schmitz and Beverley A. Parsons | 1999 | InSites at


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