Theory of Change Overview
Theory of Change is a comprehensive outline and visual depiction of a desired set of social or environmental outcomes, and the basic strategy or scope required to deliver those outcomes. Although these frameworks can vary widely depending on complexity, preference, and need, the process for developing a collaborative theory of change should begin at the end: organizations must define their common goals and intended long-term societal outcomes for their efforts.
Here is a basic theory of change model providing a planning process resulting in an overview and logic flow of inputs and activities required to reach a desired impact:
Once an organization has articulated its desired impact, it works backward to map out which intermediary steps stand between the present situation and their hoped-for outcomes, often accompanied by measurable outputs from a set of activities. These activities must be defined, along with appropriate indicators, and assigned ownership responsibilities. More thorough theories of change articulate prerequisites for success, organized thematically, such as the necessity for knowledge development, policy change, or infrastructure investments. Finally, organizations should create a comprehensive list of the resources and inputs required for the activities and identify which of those resources are available and which are missing among the partners.