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This section helps you create a project logic, which can be used to:
- communicate your project to different stakeholders, and the community more widely
- underpin the development of your Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Framework (see Step 4).
You can find a project logic template on the resources and templates page.
What is a project logic?
A project logic captures the ‘logic’ or rationale behind your project activities on a single page(xxix). It’s a simple communication tool you can use to focus discussion on why and how you are delivering a project.
There are many ways to present a project logic, and there are also lots of terms used in monitoring and evaluation to describe a project logic, such as ‘log frame’ and ‘logic model’.
Project logics usually consist of a series of boxes or columns that move from left to right on a page (or bottom to top), linking your resources and activities with what you plan to achieve. Common categories in a project logic include:
- Short-and medium-term outcomes
- Long-term outcomes (sometimes called impacts).
Before we jump into the detail of a project logic, it can be helpful to do some thinking about your project’s Theory of Change (ToC). A good Theory of Change can help strengthen your project and your project logic. (This next section is not mandatory, so please feel free to skip ahead to Creating your project logic.
What is a Theory of Change?
A Theory of Change (ToC) is a theory about how your project will create the kinds of changes you want. ToCs are best when they are co-created in a group, especially by those who know about and/or who have experienced the project(xxx).
So how does a ToC relate to your project logic? Every project logic contains the outcomes you would like your project to achieve. A ToC helps you consider the order in which outcomes will occur. A ToC is a map of the short, medium, and long-term outcomes you expect to achieve if your activities are successful. It shows how earlier outcomes are linked to or 'cause' later outcomes. This is often called a causal chain(xxxi).
A note about ‘outcomes’ language
Each statement in a ToC causal chain is usually written as an outcome statement – which describes the end state you would like to see when your activities are successful. Outcome statements are different to descriptions of activities or outputs because they focus on the product or end result. When crafting an outcomes statement, perhaps start with the following thought in mind, ‘When our actions/activities work, we will see [outcomes statement].’
The outcomes in a ToC are often written from bottom to top. Short-term outcomes are at the bottom and longer-term outcomes at the top. For example, in a project designed to build participants’ knowledge of the impacts of violence, you might have one ‘causal chain’ as follows:
|Communities understand the impacts of violence (Long term)
|Participants understand the impacts of violence (Medium term)
|Participants complete the course (Medium term)
|Participants are engaged (Short term)
|Participants attend our course (Short term)
A clear ToC helps you construct a strong project logic diagram and sets you up for success in developing strong measures and data collection processes.
Don’t get too caught up in the language of ‘Theory of Change’ or ‘project logic’ – just ensure you spend time thinking through what changes you want to see for your project, in what order.
For simple Theory of Change examples, check out:
- Clear Horizon’s ‘Car Park’ Theory of Change
- GenVic’s Women’s Health Services Council’s Theory of Change in Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health [PDF].
If you’re a Theory of Change fan like us, then you can’t go past:
- Funnell & Rogers’ (2011) book, Purposeful Program Theory: Effective use of Theories of Change and Logic Models (Wiley & Sons, CA).
- the Center for Theory of Change, which has some great online resources.
Tip – Collaboration helps create a strong project logic
The best project logics are developed with all the relevant stakeholders in a room, including project partners and participants. ToCs and project logics are commonly developed in workshops. This allows collaborative discussion and brainstorming and fosters further refinement as a group. You might need more than one workshop to finalise your model and make sure it’s right for your project.
Creating your project logic
If you look online, you’ll see that there are many different visualisations of a project logic. However most have similar core concepts. These are described in the following table:
Project logic components
|Project logic model component
|The resources required or available to deliver the activities and achieve the outputs
|Funding, members of the project team, existing partnerships or networks, policies.
|Activities are what is delivered and will turn inputs into outputs, and outputs into outcomes
|Skills development, education or awareness raising, partnerships development, research or advocacy
|Outputs count what we deliver in terms of the number of activities delivered, products produced, or clients served
|Workshops, resources, campaigns, toolkits, websites, or events
|Short to medium term outcomes
|These articulate what success looks like
They are clear, unambiguous and high-level statements about change
|Increased awareness by workshop participants of the drivers of violence against women
Increased confidence to practice bystander intervention
|Long term outcomes (Sometimes called impact)
|These articulate what success looks like in the longer term – the bigger picture reason for all of your work
|Bystanders take appropriate action to call out violence
Violence against women ends or is decreased
Some language taken from the Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence Monitoring and Evaluation Guide(xxxii) and the Victoria State Government (2019) Outcomes Reform in Victoria(xxxiii).
Map your inputs, activities and outputs
You can begin at any place on your project logic template, but many people like to work from left to right – starting with inputs. Inputs are any resource used for your project, and may be easy to identify (for example, funding) – or might be less obvious (e.g., contributions in kind from other organisations, or collaborative conversations with experts or academics).
Next, think about how these inputs contribute to the activities you undertake. Find the right pitch for describing your activities. Too much detail won’t work in a project logic diagram and too little will make the diagram too general.
Next, think about the outputs you want your project to generate. What physical products will you see? How many participants will you be servicing or connecting with?
Think of all the things you can count.
Create your outcomes
Outcomes are what you hope to see after completing your work. Short, medium, and long-term outcomes are not just about timeframe – they are about the order in which you might expect to see different types of change. They should be relevant, realistic and measurable.
As you write your short, medium, and long-term outcomes, expect to move back and forward amongst these columns – working out the sequence of outcomes can sometimes take a few tries. If you’ve already done some thinking with your team about a ToC then you’re most of the way there! Take your outcomes from the ToC and put them into your project logic.
Long-term outcomes are different to short and medium term because they describe your final goals. These kinds of outcomes might be further into the future. Think about these at two levels – long term outcomes for your own project, and long-term outcomes that have a wider and longer-term change (impact). For example, a Local Government Area (LGA) wide project that builds effective bystander behaviours might have a long-term outcome of, ‘The City of Smithtown community will be active bystanders when disrespect and violence occurs’. But the ‘bigger picture’ impact is that ‘Victorian women live free from violence in public places’. Big picture outcomes that are beyond the scope of your particular project are often described as being ‘above the line’ or ‘beyond the line’ in your diagram (that is, a physical line can be drawn underneath them to show they are outside your direct action).
A note on long-term outcomes
Ending family violence and violence against women is a long-term goal; it requires integrated work amongst different sectors and segments of society over a considerable period of time to create change. Your project is not responsible alone for creating bigger picture outcomes – it is one contributing part of a bigger picture. The message here? Long term outcomes can be aspirational, but they still need to be defined through measurement.
Consider your assumptions
A final step in creating your project logic is to consider the assumptions that go with it. Assumptions are the conditions you ‘assume’ will be in place to make your project a success – they are the conditions necessary to make the outcomes materialise. These might be both internal and external assumptions – for example, ‘Funding is continuous’ or ‘Participants have real world opportunities to put their new skills into practice’ or ‘support for our work is bi-partisan’. Assumptions are often written at the bottom of a project logic.
- Consult and collaborate to develop your stakeholder map and project logic. Remember to involve your project partners in the process.
- When developing your project logic, have a first ‘go’ and put down all of your ideas to use for workshops and discussion with partners. With each review, try to refine and agree on what content is the most important.
- When developing your project logic, ask yourself – will everyone, including people outside the project team, understand the content? Is it logical?
- Consider underlying assumptions including various contexts in which your outcomes might take place, and including those at the individual, community or organisational levels.
- Remember that primary prevention work takes place through the lens of the socio-ecological model of health and development(xxxiv). The socio-ecological model considers that wellbeing or development for individuals arises from factors related to that individual, their local relationships such as family, their communities, and social and institutional influences/impacts.
- Keep your project logic clear and concise.
(xxix) Rogers, P. (2013) Q & A about drawing logic models. Accessed on 7/7/22. Available at: [https://www.betterevaluation.org/en/blog/drawing_logic_models]
(xxx) Funnell, S., & Rogers, P. (2011). Purposeful Program Theory: Effective use of theories of change and logic models. John Wiley & Sons, San Fransisco.
(xxxi) Weiss, C. H. (1972). Evaluation research: Methods for assessing program effectiveness. Prentice-Hall. Englewood Cliffs, NJ
(xxxii) Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence (2021) Monitoring and Evaluation Guide. State Government of Victoria, Victoria.
(xxxiii) Victoria State Government (2019) Outcomes Reform in Victoria. State Government of Victoria, Melbourne. Accessed on 6/7/22. Available at: [https://www.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-02/Outcomes-reform-statement.PDF]
(xxxiv) See Bronfenbrennar, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Harvard University Press, Boston. See also Our Watch (2021) Change the Story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, 2nd ed. Our Watch, Melbourne.