The question often arises:
How far out do you go when creating an outcome chain?
Do you include long-term outcomes in your logic model when they are beyond what you could expect your program to influence? Where do you stop along the outcome chain? What should be the final, end outcome?
Usually, it is the long-term results that we and our key stakeholders are most interested in. Many funders, taxpayers, and participants want programs that, for example, reduce smoking rates, improve water quality, produce healthy eating habits, or preserve the environment. However, making a difference in social norms or environmental quality may take many years and be influenced by many factors. The further we go out on the outcome chain, the less control and influence we have.
The purpose and use of your logic model will determine whether you include those long-term outcomes in your graphic display. They are usually synonymous with the goal of your program. It is helpful to keep your eye on the long-term results. They are linked to the situation that you are seeking to help improve.
We recommend that you include the “end outcome” to show what your program is striving for and the assumed linkages to end results. If longer-term outcomes are dependent upon other programs, partners, or conditions, it helps to see the complementarity of efforts or points of intervention. You may not necessarily measure the end outcome. Sometimes we rely on research that shows links to the final outcome.
Which outcome(s) to measure will be discussed in Section 7.