I want to clarify my priorities by defining my goals and the path to reach them.

Theory of Change


Go to DIY Learn module
INSPIRED BY : Nesta (2011) Theory of Change.

Level of Involvement

Requires some dialogue with colleagues/peers. Plan for some time to interact and fill out in collaboration over a day maybe.

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This tool is also available as an online module through DIY Learn, our learning programme in innovation. Access the module here or find out more about DIY Learn.

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English Version

中文版本 (Chinese Version)

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What is it & why should I do it?


Setting up a Theory of Change is like making a roadmap that outlines the steps by which you plan to achieve your goal. It helps you define whether your work is contributing towards achieving the impact you envision, and if there is another way that you need to consider as well.


The Theory of Change tool not only helps to clearly articulate and connect your work to your bigger goal, it also allows you to spot potential risks in your plan by sharing the underlying assumptions in each step. In large organisations, when there may be several projects running simultaneously, the Theory of Change helps to map these different projects first and then consider how they link and relate to each other.


This tool can also aid in aligning team members to the larger end goal, and help them understand their role in achieving it.

How do I use it?

Theory of Changeb

Start by noting down the main problem you want to solve, and also your long term vision on the change you want to accomplish. Then complete the other boxes, such as your key audience and your entry point to reach that audience. Try to be as specific as possible because it will help you to come up with more effective actions that you can take.


Work outwards from your defining problem, and towards your long-term impact. Write down the people that are most affected by the issue that you’ve identified and who you hope to help with your work – this could be a small community group or a large organisation. Then think about where to start your work, you may need to find a place, a person or a thing that will be your first port of call. Try to think of some practical steps that you can take to make changes – like creating partnerships, or making tweaks to existing processes. Try to keep these as action-oriented as possible.


And finally, what would the immediate results or outcomes be? These could be tangible results that you can show to other people to clarify how your work is making a difference. List the key outcomes that your activity would lead to: these are the preconditions that you need to realise your vision.


As you fill each of the boxes in the worksheet, it is critical to also reflect on the key assumptions that underpin these steps in your work. This may help you to spot potential risks or connections between the different projects.

Share your experience

Latest User Experience

  1. Sam Rye

    Lifehack HQ

    User Rating: 3

    Quite liked the canvas flow – great to have a simple output at the end.

    I think the challenge with this is often more about the language to use to engage an audience, but it’s good to have the foundation to work from.


  2. Kate

    User Rating: 1

    The theory of change downloads as a pdf which is not conducive to using on a computer as you cannot edit it – do you have it in a word document to use please?

    Thank you


  3. Shelly Jackson

    S.J. Global Hope For The World

    User Rating: 4

    what is your most used developmental app? How does it implement change in creating components that reflect different options in running a team to direct social media pathways of communication.//??


  4. Sr. Maria Goretti Nabwami

    St. Theresa Riiji health center

    User Rating: 3

    I would like to bring about a long term goal so that my organization improves as there will be increased accessibility and alleviation of suffering for the children


  5. Clarence Sim

    User Rating: 2

    The flow in between “Local awareness campaign” and “Reduce HIV stigma” does not seem to connect. Also when empowered women get work & money doesn’t quite contribute to improved health of HIV+ women and their family.


  6. Lauren

    User Rating: 4

    This is a great board meeting tool to focus mission and programming.


  7. Markus Faigle


    User Rating: 1

    This is a simple step by step model that we hopefully can use with our teachers as a tool to help them focus on some of their desired outcomes. I am a bit confused about the term “theory”, since there are quite a few theories of change out there and this is more a model or road map tool than a theory. (I was thinking along the lines of Prochaska’s “model of change”, when I read theory)


  8. Abdullahi Sh. Abukar

    Somali Human Rights Association(SOHRA)

    User Rating: 5

    The second topic was very interesting one about ” Theory of Change”, this innovating is definitely helpful throughout the seven pillars of the Implementation of the project


  9. Ginni Hill

    Colorado Springs Conservatory

    User Rating: 5

    This organizational tool helped me outline everything in an action-oriented manner, all the while respecting potential setbacks through recognizing key assumptions. It forces you to focus on specific tasks to reach immediate and longitudinal goals. Thank you!


  10. David

    User Rating: 3

    How to do help a group define assumptions?


  11. Alice

    Farm Concern International

    User Rating: 4

    I found this tool quite useful and will definitely use it soon.


  12. cn

    Seattle Uniersity

    User Rating: 2

    Love it but trouble dowloading.




    User Rating: 2

    Simplified, but having it accessed practically is the only way to know you go it right. I will practice it and get someone confirm to me if its right.


  14. Jane Segleau Earle


    User Rating: 4

    It was very very easy to fill in the tool since in ASIREA we have strategic planning and recently we did an overview of our work. The truth is, this work is so difficult, taht one cannot loose contact with why or with whom we are doing it. In fact, every Monday, we recheck our path to be sure we are on the right track, we discuss challenges and make decisions.

    As a conclusion, I think we need to strengthen communication of our work with stakeholders, Government and farmers alike.

    This tool is great for the beginning of a project. Also, like others- could not use the format, but did it in a notebook.


  15. Blessings Makwakwa

    Field Officer - Community Initiative for Self Reliance (CISER)

    User Rating: 5

    This has really been helpful. simple and well clarified.