A theory of change (TOC) is the product of a series of critical-thinking exercises that provides a comprehensive picture of the early- and intermediate-term changes in a given community that are needed to reach a long-term goal articulated by the community.

The articulation of a long-term Goal by a community, an Non-governmental organization, or a local authority could be performed as a consensus finding of priorities among the Sustainable Development Goals - #SDGs.

A priority for a Course of Action is usually linked to a substantial Gap between local Performance indicator values, and desired values for the community. If a priority is related to a Sustainable Development Goal or target, then the target values could help the community in articulating desired values.

A project team could use the country specific sustainable development goal or target hashtags, e.g. #sdg04GH for the education goal in Ghana, to inform the philanthropic donors of its area of work, and request for funding. Such hashtags can support a transparent matchmaking between grassroots initiatives and philanthropic donors. Such transparency is the concern of Article #aaaa42 - Increased transparency and accountability in philanthropy of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

  • The targets for indicators can help the NGO decision makers in quantifying and making smart their goals.
  • Via the #WWlgu hashtag of a geographic area (local government unit or lgu), one can find and share local data for the indicators and goals of interest. This is explained in this video.

Agreeing a theory of change is best preceded by agreeing a Diagnostic Hypothesis.

Both in the theory of change and diagnostic hypotheses one must be aware of the Level of scope of the various actors in the area of interest.

If you are an NGO working for a specific cause, then a brief description of a theory of change can be included in your Annual Report,

Source: Evaluation Exchange (by Harvard Family Research Project): An Introduction to Theory of Change.

Examples are under construction in the function of government pages of the Actor Atlas.