Theory of Change (ToC) is a specific type of methodology for planning, participation, and evaluation that is used in the philanthropy, not-for-profit and government sectors to promote social change.
Theory of Change defines long-term goals and then maps backward to identify necessary preconditions. Theory of Change explains the process of change by outlining causal linkages in an initiative, i.e., its shorter-term, intermediate, and longer-term outcomes. The identified changes are mapped –as the “outcomes pathway” – showing each outcome in logical relationship to all the others, as well as chronological flow.
The links between outcomes are explained by “rationales” or statements of why one outcome is thought to be a prerequisite for another.The innovate of Theory of Change lies (1) in making the distinction between desired and actual outcomes, and (2) in requiring stakeholders to model their desired outcomes before they decide on forms of intervention to achieve those outcomes.