Logframe: Key Terms

To avoid confusion, here are some brief definitions of commonly used terms regarding logframes. See also the glossary.

  • Activities: The collection of tasks to be carried out in order to achieve the outputs
  • Outputs: The tangible products, goods or services that lead to the achievement of outcomes
  • Outcomes: The primary results that a project/ programme aims to achieve, often in terms of the knowledge, attitudes or practices of the target group
  • Goals: High ideals resulting from your vision. Beyond the control of your project but your project contributes directly to it

So, the following might illustrate a classic log frame:

  • Impact/ Goal: Increased access to high skilled jobs and higher income/to increase access to high skilled jobs and higher income
  • Outcomes: Increased information technology skills in a particular town or region
  • Outputs: 40 people trained for one week and certificate earned by 35 participants
  • Activities: Training Courses in basic IT skills
  • Inputs: trainers, facilitators, equipment

All of the above seems relatively straightforward. However, there is variation surrounding the terminology surrounding logframes. For a comparison of terminology between different organisations check out the “Rosetta Stone” of logical frameworks compiled by Care International and InterAction’s Evaluation Interest Group.

Confusion over Terminology

So, one thing that is not logical about the logframe is that terminology is not always used with much consistency. Some of the ambiguity surrounds the following terms:

‘Goal(s)’ versus ‘Impact(s)’

These terms tend to be used interchangeably. They refer to the longer-term aim and the longer-term intended consequence of the whole project or programme (final impact on people’s lives). It is tricky to single out the impact of a project since several other projects and indeed wider factors can lead to the same impact/ achievement of the same final goal.

‘Inputs’ versus ‘Activities’

Often used interchangeably, these terms are in fact distinct:

Inputs are the things we use to deliver the project such as human resources, money, and equipment such as public address systems among others.

Activities are actions associated with delivering project goals such as conducting community meetings, providing first-aid training, distributing mosquito nets, collecting periodic data to monitor project progress.

‘Outputs’ versus ‘Outcomes’

Outputs are the direct results of your activity and are often short term and countable (e.g. number of people trained, the number of mosquito nets delivered, number of vaccinations). An output tells you that an activity has taken place.

Outcomes relate to the changes, often in behaviour and often over the medium term brought about partly or in whole by the activities of your project. Simply put, the outcomes are the changes that occur as a result of an activity (e.g. improved well-being of training participants). Note: certain projects might lead to chains of linked outcomes.

Sometimes it takes years for outcomes to take place – for example, slowing the rate of climate change – but there may be observable changes along the way. So, following a safe water project, an outcome would be the percentage of households that are using chlorinated drinking water.

Outcomes are often also linked to indicators.

Outcome: decreased stigmatisation of unmarried mothers. Indicator: percentage increase in the number of participants (unmarried mothers) assuming positions of responsibility within the community (within school, on local councils or hosting events).

Summing Up

It is worth thinking of each of these terms primarily in terms of what they do and how they help to measure progress.

  • Narrative summary: involves a brief verbal description of the activities/ outputs/ outcomes/ goals. Use precise language and active verbs. Sometimes this summary appears in a column of its own. Sometimes the text is inserted into the first column and simply expands on the terms ‘goals’, ‘outcomes’, ‘outputs’ and ‘activities’.
  • Indicators: these are criteria for assessing project progress at different levels in the narrative summary. They are the measures by which you know and can show that a change has taken place since the baseline data was established. Donors prefer these to be objectively verifiable indicators, that is to say, capable of being independently checked.
  • Means (or source) of verification refers to the data source that will be used to check that the project has brought about changes: school attendance or exam records, medical transcripts, direct observation. It is usually linked to indicators and specifies where and how the information about the indicator can be obtained.
  • Assumptions (and Risks) refer to external factors or conditions, not under the direct control of the project, that need to be met if the goal/outcomes/ output are to be achieved. This category does not appear on all logframes. It is particularly useful for the Theory of Change approach. In effect, it looks at in-built assumptions within the logframe that if X happens, Y will then follow. It also identifies possible threats that can derail the project or result in X not leading to Y.