Scope is a large nationwide charity that provides information, advice, support and services for disabled people. When Scope came to NPC they were transforming their strategy. They wanted to see how they could influence change over the next 3–5 years, measure that change, and hold themselves to account for it. Scope commissioned us to support them in creating a theory of change for the whole organisation, and more detailed theories of change for their five strategic goals.
NPC worked closely with Scope from the outset in order to familiarise themselves with existing processes and outcomes, and determine how these would feed into the overall organisational theory of change. We ran four full day workshops where Scope staff contributed ideas and collaborated with each other and NPC. NPC’s final products included six theories of change, as well as measurement guidance.
Scope tell us they found this work and its outputs extremely valuable. They have noted that the theories of change have become a useful tool in conceptualising how we will achieve Everyday Equality and the theory of change has helped link all our activities to our social change focus. Scope have recruited an Impact Manager and are using these theories of change to influence how they measure their impact going forward.
The process brought people together and got them in the same place and that staff found this motivating.
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?
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.
At NPC we believe in impact measurement as a way for charities and funders to increase their effectiveness. We know it helps organisations improve what they do and deliver the best results for their beneficiaries. Here we publish our four pillar approach which provides clear and practical guidance on developing an impact measurement framework.