Age Exchange is a charity using reminiscence arts to transform lives improving health and wellbeing, the particularly work with older people, people with dementia and their carers. They work in care homes and day centres, provide training in reminiscence arts, and run a café and community hub in Blackheath, London. Age Exchange contacted NPC for help developing a theory of change and evaluation framework to coincide with their new strategy.
Age Exchange wanted to gather evidence of the impact of its work with older people, people with dementia and carers, and to ensure that all the charity’s activities contributed to its goal. A priority for the new strategy was to improve the financial sustainability of the organisation, including the development of new income streams.
We worked with the organisation to run a theory of change workshop with staff and provide a write up. This was the foundation for creating a measurement framework, which drew on existing evidence and tools relevant to their work. Finally, we made practical recommendations for implementing the approach.
Age Exchange has been gradually implementing the measurement framework across its services, and using the evidence review in conversations with partners. The theory of change has helped focus on Age Exchange’s key goals, and communicate its story to others.
NPC lived up to my expectation of being one of the market leaders in the sector.
A theory of change is a tool that allows you to describe the need you are trying to address, the changes you want to make (your outcomes), and what you plan to do (your activities). It can help you improve your strategy, measurement, communication and partnership working.
We think that, applied well, theory of change can support charities and funders to take a systemic approach to their work. This report identifies five common pitfalls that organisations fall into when using theory of change, and walks through five rules of thumb that will help organisations to use the approach to tackle complex problems.
A decade ago, the term ‘theory of change’ meant little to the UK charity sector. Seen as a piece of American evaluation jargon, it did not conjure up much enthusiasm. But today, more and more charities are using theories of change, and more and more funders are asking to see them. So what is a theory of change, and why is it so valuable?