In many cases, an NGO or association simply draws up a logframe because it has no other choice. It then proceeds to make up numbers that are destined to satisfy donors. If you are going to use the logframe (this toolkit offers alternatives through the Full and Quick 1-2-3 Methods), then you should try to get something out of it, learn lessons and get a better sense of what does and does not work.
So how should you go about drawing up your logframe and building in M&E? There is no fixed approach.
- A guide from Bondsuggests you start filling in the table from the top with your objectives and then work down.
- For Greta Jensen, the logframe is about setting your goals first and then getting into what you actually need to do.
You have to look at all the boxes in the table as a sequence using an “if and then” logic.
- If we undertake these activities then this will lead to these outputs
- If we achieve these outputs, then they will result in the following outcomes
- If we reach the following outcome then we will achieve our overall goal
Ideally, you should draw up the logframe in consultation with stakeholders and beneficiaries, decide what your overall goal is or decide on the key problem you are trying to address.
You can then use the problem tree, logic chain or outcome mapping to fill in the other boxes. It is important to be realistic in your goals: your project is not going to transform the world or even a region but could make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people.
Next, consider what are you trying to achieve and how are you going to achieve this? Does your organisation have the people, skills, time and resources to achieve this goal? Do you have local partners in a particular region and what would they like you to do?
The decision of the goal of your project and/ or the identification of the problem you are the addressing are clearly fundamental as you cannot implement specific activities, outputs or outcomes until you know this. Nor can you identify indicators (discussed below).
- Which project or aspect of a programme are you going to monitor or evaluate? (You may not have the time or resources to do this for several interventions)
- Which evaluation methods to employ? Examples include metrics-based/ quantitative or theory-based. See also the 1-2-3 Method.
- Who should you involve and how should you involve other actors (beneficiaries and internal/external stakeholders) in the design, implementation, analysis and dissemination of M&E findings?
- Who will collect the data? How best to monitor (outside of fieldtrips) and whether to opt for a mid-term as well as a final evaluation?
- How many resources (financial/ staffing is required to conduct the M&E)?
- How to report back to donors, stakeholders and beneficiaries?
- What to do with the findings of any monitoring or evaluation, especially if the results they generate are not ‘positive’?
On a more pragmatic note, you have to decide what activities you are going to engage in, what products, services or outputs these will deliver, what outcomes (immediate or longer-term) these will engender and how this will impact upon your goal.
But in order to gauge the extent to which this chain of events actually happens, you need to work out the indicators by which they will be judged. This is important since you are likely to have to fill in your log frame with hard and soft data for annual and final reports to your funder.
When designing your indicators, there are different, well-established pneumonics you should consider. These include VARSA:
- VAlid (they should measure results)
- Reliable (they should be consistent over time)
- Sensitive (they should be responsive to changes)
- Affordable (they should be within the means of the project)
A more common acronym associated with indicators and the one which is preferred here is SMART:
- Specific – define clearly what population you are working with, what your project is and who is doing what in your organisation
- Measurable: something you can count or measure. This quantifiable dimension is arguably less central to the Theory of Change approach
- Appropriate- matches the work you are doing and meets the needs of your community
- Realistic- something you can accomplish with the resources you have
- Timely- be specific about when you plan to achieve your goals
How smart would the following indicator be for one of your proposed outcomes:
We will provide services that will help improve the lives of older people
- Specific- which services? Define older people?
- Measurable? How much improvement are you seeking and what is your baseline? How will you measure progress?
- Appropriate- Yes but are others providing similar services already?
- Realistic- Yes but very vague. How many older people? Where? By how much?
- Timely- Yes. There is always a need for such support. But for how long will this support be provided?