Theory of Change

What is a Theory of Change?

A theory of change is the groundwork for any type of change. It is essentially a hypothesis about what it will take to achieve a desired change. Developing a theory of change helps organizations to crystalize their strategy, align their resources and achieve their intended impact.

Openly co-founders Tanya Darisi and Lisa Villeneuve developed a primer which covers the basics and possible uses for a theory of change in your work. Sign up for our email list to receive our free PDF resource.

Theory of Change Gallery

Centre for Connected Communities

C3’s theory of change clarifies this new organizations purpose and identity. As Project Lead of Grassroots Networks, Gillian Perera states, this clarity is helping the team to put more substance behind our vision, mission and our values and principles with integrity. We can say this is why we’re doing this.”

The Period Purse

As a young and growing charity, TPP’s theory of change is their roadmap. Founder, Jana Girdauskas says,I love it as a decision-making tool. Instead of us debating whether this was a good choice or not, it was already made for us because we had decided we had other priorities.”

East Scarborough Storefront

The Storefront’s theory of change has evolved into a practical Playbook. As a Manager, Carolyn Saenz-Esterhuyse uses the Playbook in her daily work. “So if staff ask, why are we doing this?, we can say: if it aligns, we make it work. If it doesn’t fit with our purpose, even if it’s a good idea, we don’t move it forward.”

Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre

MNJCC’s theory of change is energizing the organization as staff can see how their work makes a difference. Harriet Wichin, Executive Director, says, “When I say, Find yourself on the page, they say ‘Yup, that’s who I am, that’s what I do and that’s my part.’ That (theory of change) tool helped break down the silos.”

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