Theory of Change

A Practical Tool for Action, Results and Learning

By Organizational Research Services

June 4, 2004


Every community needs a roadmap for change. A theory of change (TOC) outlines how to create that change. It is an essential part of a successful community transformation effort. This manual, created for the Casey Foundation's Making Connections initiative, defines theory of change using Casey's impact, influence and leverage platform, and shows community advocates how to create their own TOC by showing the relationships between outcomes, assumptions, strategies and results.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Thinking through a theory of change shows how the work progresses. It doesn't stop the work.

Some stakeholders may react in frustration to the theory of change development process because they view it as “taking time to think” which takes time away from “doing the work.” However, the thinking involved in building a theory of change does not in any way preclude doing the work …  it is almost impossible to determine whether progress has occurred in a community change initiative if you have not explicitly identified the steps to progress. Communities have too much at stake to engage in work without a clearly defined purpose.

Theory of Change Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations