Theories of Change, Logframes, and Indicators: An Updated Resource Collection on Project Design

Are you working to design a new project or refine the design of an existing program? Switchboard’s Resource Library hosts a variety of project design resources to help guide you through the process.

Strong project design starts with sound logic. Theories of change  and  logical frameworks (logframes) can both be considered types of logic models. A theory of change diagram explicitly illustrates the causal pathways between activities, outputs, outcomes, and objectives (usually using arrows), while a logframe uses a table or matrix format to summarize the key elements of a project strategy—objectives, outcomes, outputs, and activities—and the indicators and data sources needed to measure them.

Understanding Two Types of Logic Models

Developing Theories of Change and Logframes

  • Developing Logframes e-Learning Module  (2017)
    After completing this 20-minute e-learning module, you will understand what logframes are; why they are important for strong program design, monitoring and evaluation; and how to develop a logframe.
  • 7 Steps for Developing Theories of Change, with Case Study  (2016)
    Download this tip sheet as step-by-step reference for developing a theory of change. The accompanying case study puts these steps into practice. See how the team for a fictional refugee economic self-sufficiency project developed a theory of change for a program aiming to help clients learn English, gain job search skills, and obtain sustainable employment.

Improving Your Indicators

  • SMART Indicators Checklist, with Case Study (2016)
    The SMART criteria are a well-accepted way to assess the quality of project indicators (the variables that are tracked to measure changes or achievements in connection with an intervention). Use this checklist to determine if your indicators meet quality standards or need to be revised or discussed further. To see an example of the checklist’s use, download the accompanying case study. It describes the process used by a fictional economic self-sufficiency project team who wanted to ensure that their indicators would enable them and their donor to learn about their project.
  • Indicator Matrix Template  (2016)
    An indicator matrix is a tool that goes into more detail than a typical logframe about each of your project’s indicators. This can help you ensure indicators are measurable, realistic and purposeful, improving use of program data down the line. It also clarifies plans for data collection and management, helping to ensure your systems are appropriate and leading to more efficient use of staff time in data collection and analysis.

Want more help with project design? Visit Switchboard’s Resource Library to find many more monitoring and evaluation resources, including tools to help you plan for data collection, management, analysis, and more. You can also receive customized support for your specific project by submitting a technical assistance request to Switchboard! 

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