Throughout our work and personal lives we have aims and ideas about how to achieve them, but we rarely take the time to think these through, scrutinise and articulate them. This is what a theory of change process does. It encourages us to reflect on our aims and plans, to discuss them with others and to make them explicit.
We see theory of change as the foundation of charity strategy, evaluation and communication.
Our existing guidance, published in 2014, is one of our most widely read publications. Since then, we have learnt a lot about where our thinking works well, and where it falls short. This new guide is a ten step handbook to creating a theory of change, built on many years of developing them for charities and funders. It focusses on the basics, our core approach. It gives you the information you need to do any theory of change and is directly applicable to smaller projects and charitable services.
This handbook will soon be accompanied by fully updated guidance going into more detail and exploring different situations, including those that are more complex, like charitable campaigns and organisations as a whole.
We hope these ten steps provide a practical working guide for charities and funders, enabling you to think through your work and provide the best services possible. To dig deeper, NPC runs regular training sessions and workshops on theory of change. Our consultants are also ready to support you should you so desire. For an example of how we can help your organisation with your theory of change, take a look at this theory of change report—produced for Kooth in 2021.
We would really like to know what you think of this guidance, you can share your thoughts through a short survey that is available here.
Theory of change mechanisms are where you describe how you want people to engage with your activities; the kind of relationship you establish; and the thought processes you want them to go through in order to achieve the outcomes and impact you want.
James Noble introduces NPC's new thinking on theory of change.
NPC has worked with many charities and social enterprises over the years to help them work out what data they need to understand and improve their work. It can be a confusing question, and sometimes even the word 'data' puts people off. Here our head of impact management James Noble introduces the different kinds of information organisations can collect.