Making Connections

Using a theory of change to develop planning and evaluation


Date of publication:  01 Feb 2011 Authors:  Jean Ellis Diana Parkinson and Avan Wadia Publisher:  Charities Evaluation Services Publication type:  Guide / Guidelines / Principle

This guide is an introduction to the ‘theory of change’ approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation. It explains what it is, why to use it and how to use it. It will help you:

  • understand what the theory of change is
  • see how it fits with other models of planning and evaluation
  • decide whether it is the right model for your organisation
  • develop your own theory of change.

Chapter 1 provides an overview of the theory of change approach and Chapter 2 explains more about how the approach is used. Chapter 3 is the core chapter: it take you in greater detail through the several steps of developing a theory of change, and discuss what you will need to include in it to make it most useful. Chapter 4 describes how a theory of change can serve as a dynamic and comprehensive framework for evaluating projects and programmes.

The guide illustrates the text by building a theory of change step-by-step for a fictitious project working with unemployed young people. It also provide links to a real-life example of theory of change developed by TB Alert and to a case example of an evaluation using the approach by the Chinese National Healthy Living Centre. 

Who this guide is for:

Making Connections is aimed at voluntary or community sector organisations wanting to bring about change – whether at an individual, organisation, community or policy level. 

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