Does sustaining your organization go in your logic model?

Every once in a while, I see a logic model that incorporates the organization’s financial sustainability. The rationale for it is that if the organization doesn’t have enough resources, the program won’t run. This is true, but including the activities of your development department in your program logic model reveals a couple of misunderstandings about logic models.



First, a logic model is for a specific program. The logic model should spell out very clearly who the target participant in that program is and what the key activities are that participant will be engaged in. The program logic model should also spell out what the outcomes are going to be for the participants during and after their participation in the program.


The activities of your development and finance teams do not serve your clients. Whoa, I hear you saying, yes they do! If they don’t keep the lights on, then we can’t serve any clients. But actually, the development and finance teams are serving your program staff. They keep the paychecks coming and the lights on so that your program staff can do their best work. Even when program staff have a part to play — obviously development doesn’t just bring them checks — they are playing a support role in the development team’s program. 

Could the finance or development departments build their own logic model? Absolutely! They have programs, target populations, performance measures, and targets — everything they need to build clear and useful logic models.

The second reason is the ethical one. Most not-for-profits exist to create a resource or solve a problem for a community. When the problem is solved, the organization should close (or change its focus as in the case of the March of Dimes). If your organization’s problem were solved, would you still need the finance and development departments? Nope! Because your organization’s mission is to address a challenge in the community. Organizational sustainability is just a method. 


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Pieta Blakely

About Pieta Blakely

I help mission-based organizations measure their impact so that they can do what they do well. I started my nonprofit career as a teacher in workforce development and adult basic education. It was important work and I was worried that we didn’t really know if we were doing it well. In the process of trying to answer that question, I got a Masters in Education and a PhD in Social Policy, and became an evaluator.

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