Theory of Change

Theory of change (ToC) is a methodology that explains how activities are understood to produce a series of results that contribute to achieving the final intended impacts. A ToC can be developed for any level of intervention – a project, a programme, a policy, a strategy or an organisation.

Theory of Change is essentially a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It does this by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then works back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place (and how these related to one another causally) for the goals to occur.

Having a well-developed and clear project design is the first step to being able to elaborate your M&E Plan. However, a Theory of Change is just one of the design methodologies you can use for your project or program. You can also consider using a Logical Framework.

Below are some resources to help get you started in developing a Theory of Change for your project or programme.


Guidance for Developing a Theory of Change for your Programme – NESTA

Creating your Theory of Change – NPC

Applying a Theory of Change Approach to the Evaluation of Comprehensive Community Initiatives – James P Connell & Anne C Kubisch


Théorie du Changement, Théorie de la Mesure – Grupe de la banque mondiale

Repères sur les théoris du changement – Des ressources pour l’evaluation Des repères pour l’action


Teoría de cambio – HIVOS

La teoría de cambio – UNICEF