Describing Your Program Design

Describing Your Program Design

June 23, 2015

In your grant proposal, if you've done your job of clearly defining a particular problem in the world that needs to be solved (see “Be Clear About the Need,” May 2015 issue), then you are well on your way to capturing a funder's interest in your proposed solution. Now you’ll need to find an effective way to describe how your program is designed to make an impact on the problem by changing a condition, a situation or a behavior. 

A “logic model” is a popular method of illustrating how your program activities will accomplish the change you are working toward. Often requested by funders to be attached to proposals, the logic model can provide a structured, visual framework for clearly depicting your “theory of change” by describing your program activities, how they will achieve the goals you are working toward and how you will know when you are succeeding. Regardless of how you decide to explain your program design in your proposal, you will need to have an answer to the question often asked by funders: “What is your theory of change?” 

Don’t forget that funders are essentially investors in social change; the results you achieve will be their return on investment. So, your program design — and how you describe it — is key in attracting financial support.

Luz M. Rodriguez is a training specialist at the Foundation Center. The Foundation Center seeks to strengthen the social sector by advancing knowledge about philanthropy in the US and around the world. For more information, visit 

Luz M. Rodriguez