Some donors request what is typically known as a logframe, short for Logical Framework. Logframes also go by many other names, including: Logical Framework Analysis, LFA, Logical Framework Matrix or even Project Framework. Whatever it is called, this framework is a summary of the project in table format. The logframe was reportedly developed originally by USAID during the 1970s for organizing logistics and now many large donors require it in their applications.
A logframe is:
- A management tool for effective planning and implementation of projects.
- A framework to build clear, concise and systematic information about a project.
- A table which shows project components and the relationships between these components.
- A method to clearly display the progress from goals to activities to results.
A Logframe format in a European Commission call for proposals application form:
The logframe has become an essential tool for donors not only in planning their own macro-level strategies, but also in seeking in-depth information about the small and medium-sized projects they fund.
Logframes also give a clear summary of what resources would be needed and how these willbe used for various project activities.
While a good logframe can be very useful in planning a project, it can be very difficult to create. Many donors recognize this fact, and either do not require a logframe in the application or require a logframe but do not score it.
However, even in cases where the logframe is not directly needed for win funding, donors may refer back to it throughout project implementation. For example, the donor may look at the logframe during the project mid-evaluation to ensure the project is properly monitored and is achieving its set targets.
The Process of developing the Logframe in Your Proposal
Experts know that logframes are a great tool to start building complex projects; large projects have many moving parts and logframes keep track of the details while still focusing on how these details fit into the overall goal of the project. Ideally, the logframe should be developed early on in the project’s planning phase and then used as an outline to form the project proposal.
In practice, many organizations find creating a logframe before developing a proposal time-consuming and difficult. Logframes require a very clear understanding of the project and its results, which is oftentimes hard to achieve before the process of detailed writing that occurs while making proposals.
Thus, many logframes are developed after the proposal is completed and only if the donor requires it. However, it is ideal to develop the logframe first, use it to write the proposal, and then work back and forth between the two for adjustments and improvements.
Since the logframe serves as the base forming the project and the proposal, developing the logframe needs to be a participatory process. The final logframe should represent the ideas and concerns of all the stakeholders involved in the projects.
These stakeholders can be communities or the direct beneficiaries of the project, the implementing organization, the partner agencies, the local authorities and in some cases, the donor as well. Without the participation of all stakeholders, the logframe only presents one side of the story.
The Big Picture of the Logframe
As stated above, a logframe is able to show the relationships between a project and its components. The Problem Tree diagram is a model for understanding the cause-and-effect relationships of these components:
As shown in this diagram, for the tree to grow and leaves to spread, the base must be firmly rooted in solid ground. The metaphor here is that each project component feeds into the next component, eventually achieving the overall goal. Each component must be functioning in connection to each other and have a firm basis.
This table shows how the logframe is organized with each individual part connecting back to the overall objective. This concept is important to remember; as it is very easy to only focus on the project details and technical requirements and lose sight of the bigger picture.
The Components of a Logframe inside Your Proposal
Since a logframe is a tool for developing a project outline that can then be turned into a proposal, the basic components of a logframe match those of a proposal.
Sometimes different donors use different terms or add specific requirements to logframe documents. For example, a narrative summary of the logframe with clear written descriptions outside the table format may be requested. Differing requirements may seem to force applicants to make different logframes for each donor. However, no matter which terms donors use, all logframes have the same design, purpose and general meaning. Understanding the general principles of developing the logframe makes completing logframes for all donors much easier.
Final tips on creating the logframe
- Use paper, blackboard or a whiteboard while discussing the logframe initially before the typed document.
- It is acceptable to use sections from an already developed logframe when creating a new one, but it should be completely revised and customized to fit the new project.
- Do not leave the logframe for last. Create at least a draft before the proposal as a reference.
- The logframe should show a clear relationship between the various parts of the project. The goal should be aligned to the objectives, the objectives to the activities, the activities to the results and the results to the indicators.
- Summarize all the components in a logframe. The best logframes are only one or at most a few pages long. If it is over four pages, start thinking of ways to summarize and further shorten it.
- Make sure it is possible to report and deliver on the indicators. Donors will pay close attentionto these and expect full reports.
- Ensure that the logframe is in line with other components of the proposal. Always double-check the logframe after completing the full proposal to make sure they are consistent with each other.
- If in doubt, ask the donor for guidance. Remember that most donors who request logframes understand the difficulty in creating logframes and will likely be lenient.