Theory Of Change

Theory of Change is a framework for articulating how a specified long-term outcome is brought into being, through a methodical delineation of the intermediate outcomes that logically precede the desired long-term outcome. The process also documents assumptions, interventions, and success measures along the way. Theory of Change may be used to design new initiatives as well as to evaluate and refine existing programs.

Elements of a Theory of Change Process

  • articulate the change you seek to make in the world
  • outline the logical path to bring about that change
  • evaluate the possible interventions along that path
  • define success, and how to measure it, at each stage along the way
  • shed light on assumptions and beliefs that drive your approach
  • create a compelling narrative about how and why your work will bring about your desired impact, to support:
    • grant seeking and fundraising efforts
    • staff, board member, and volunteer recruitment
    • motivation of professional staff and lay leaders
    • moving the needle towards your vision

Recommended Reading

This article provides an excellent and concise overview of Theory of Change, explaining what it is and why it is useful.

The Center for Theory of Change sets standards
and provides tools for using this framework. The website includes: