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Logic Model Hack: Constructing Proposals

Posted by on June 2nd, 2017 Posted in: Blog, Logic Models


Logic models are program planning tools but they have many other uses (new to logic models?  See these posts).  The NEO has a series of “logic model hacks” that are about other ways logic models can be used (this is the second one, so it’s a series).

The logic model is a great help when writing proposals (look at the sample logic model below to see how this could work):

  • The Inputs area is helpful for writing the budget.
  • The Activities/Reach area is helpful for putting together the methodologies section or description of project for the proposal.
  • The Interim and Long-Term Outcomes can be used in the executive summary, along with the activities, explaining briefly what will be done and why.
  • The Assumptions Section can be used to preempt questions reviewers might ask.
  • The External Factors section can be used to help with potential supporting organizations, and also ensure that you describe how you will overcome barriers.
  • And then, of course, the activities and outcomes can be used to help create an evaluation plan (see earlier posts From Logic Model to Proposal Evaluation, Part 1 and Part 2).

Example of logic model using the dusk to dawn project

I want to describe an experience I had where the logic model was used in a way I had not thought of when writing a proposal.  The goal of the project was to transform a current website (CROWD) into a robust web resource for health information for women with disabilities.  I was helping one of the planners write a logic model that would help to work through the project’s evaluation plan for the proposal they were working on.

Margaret Nosek, PhD of Baylor College of Medicine and TIRR Memorial Hermann headed up this project, with the librarians of TIRR Memorial Hermann (Brenda Eames) and the Texas Medical Center Library (Beatriz Varman and Marcus Spann).  I sat down with Dr. Nosek to discuss the logic model and how it could be used.  I wanted to write about this today because I thought she used the logic model Assumptions section in a unique way that worked well for her proposal.

Dr. Nosek used the Assumptions section to work through the assumptions that could be used to describe a logical justification for the need and timeliness for this project.  In the assumptions section, she listed:

  • Everyone knows a woman with a disability
  • Every woman with a disability has a large circle of contacts, personal and medical
  • Use of internet and mobile technologies is on the rise
  • Use of internet for health information is strong and growing stronger
  • Most health-related websites make no mention of any disability
  • Most websites on health are image based with poor quality descriptors for accessible access

Each statement here is an assumption, but together, they make up an argument for the need for a high quality web resource for up to date health information for women with disabilities. You might be thinking “many of these assumptions could be strengthened with data.”  For the actual proposal, Dr. Nosek tightened up the argument and included data to support the justification for the project.

One thing that Cindy Olney likes to say is that logic models are written in pencil – in other words, whether you actually use a pencil or not, they can be changed and adjusted as needed.  I know that this is not the usual way to use the Assumptions section of a logic model, but if I were writing a proposal I might think of taking the Assumptions section and re-doing it this way, just for the proposal.

For more information on doing logic models, see Booklet 2: Planning Outcomes Based Outreach Projects.

Image of the author ABOUT Karen Vargas
As Evaluation Specialist for the NNLM Evaluation Office (NEO), Karen Vargas participates in evaluating the programs of the NNLM, assists people with their program and evaluation planning, and teaches classes on planning and evaluating library programs.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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