Developing a Theory of Change

Developing a strategic Theory of Change (ToC) helps organisations and initiatives plan how they will create change, assess their effectiveness and communicate to stakeholders. A Theory of Change is normally depicted as a map, or a journey. It links activities to the short-term, medium-term and long-term outcomes experienced by stakeholders.  It is a living diagram and narrative that should be updated as the work of the organisation changes.

Strategic Theories of Change

We work with clients to co-design strategic theories of change, and to develop an understanding of how and why change happens. Three principles underpin our approach:

  • Co-design: We use a participatory approach.
  • Feasible and robust: We use proven methodologies to clarify the need, goals, mission and vision of the organisation, how planned activities will drive the desired change.
  • Develop understanding: We act not just as a facilitator, but as a ‘critical friend’ offering insights and challenge throughout the process.

How we work with you

Every client has specific needs but the following is an example of a typical programme format:

Stage 1: Discovery: We develop an understanding about the needs, goals, vision and mission of the organisation.

Stage 2: Workshop to develop outcomes pathways for your organisational goals. Explore, refine and define the stakeholders, need, goals, vision and mission of the organisation. Develop outcomes pathways for the goals.

Stage 3: Review and reflection: Review the output from the workshop and share with a wider group for comment. We will review the comments. A revised version of the Theory of Change will be developed for review in a second workshop.

Stage 4: Workshop to understand how the planned activities drive change. You will map activities to the outcomes pathways for each goal to understand how they will drive change.

Stage 5: Review and reflection: Review and comment on the output from the second workshop, and share with a wider group for comment to further refine the Theory of Change.

Stage 6: Final review: At this stage we can support you as a ‘critical friend’ usually via email and telephone.

See our case studies page for examples which we will be adding shortly.  In the meantime please contact us for more information.

Training Programme
For local authorities

We offer group online training and facilitate workshops, primarily for local authorities. Topics currently include Theory of Change, commissioning for outcomes, co-production, and more.

And for other organisations…

You might want to join our open training on Theory of Change or measuring social impact.

Find out more

Sign up for updates

Join our mailing list

by @nefconsulting