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Developing your theory of change

Bringing it together

Previously you gained a better understanding of output, outcome and impact and you have discovered tools to think about the problem and the solution (which inform your business activity). When you link all these elements into a logical story you have developed your theory of change.

Source: 2018 My Social Startup ® De Punt, Seinwezen, Sociale InnovatieFabriek, University of Brighton, West Sussex County Council

An example of the theory of change

You can develop an overall theory of change for your social enterprise. However you should be able to break down this theory  of change to the level of each activity that is essential for you to achieve the desired social impact. The social enterprise, ‘Lets Work’ has two very specific business activities: providing education and training on one hand and providing workplaces on the other. This example illustrates the theory of change for the activities of providing education and training.

Source: 2018 My Social Startup ® De Punt, Seinwezen, Sociale InnovatieFabriek, University of Brighton, West Sussex County Council

An example of the theory of change

You discovered already whatthe socia enteprise ‘Let’s Work’ does in previous examples. Let’s look at their theory of change for the business activity which encompasses training for people with disabilities.

Now let’s look at their theory of change for the ‘business activity’ which encompasses setting up and providing workplaces for people with disabilities.

EXAMPLE: TRAINING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

PROBLEM

People with disabilities have few opportunities to deploy their talent.

There’s no adapted education or training for people with disabilities to use their talents on the labour market.

They have no professional network and sometimes a very small social network and end up isolated.

BUSINESS ACTIVITY

Training for people with disabilities

OUTPUT

Number of trainees

Number of training hours

OUTCOME

People with disabilities discover their talents

People with disabilities develop new skills, attitudes and knowledge

Carers discover new possibilities for people with disabilities

People with disabilities expand their social network

IMPACT

People with disabilities develop their talents through doing new activities, taking part in education with new friends.

Your theory of change: your turn

Use the worksheet below to take note.

  1. Define the problem your activity or activities tackles. Use the problem tree.
  2. Name the business activity and important elements that make up that activity. Use the solution tree. Remember: maybe you will need more than one important activity in order to achieve impact.
  3. Output is the work performed. For example: if you give training, it’s the number of training sessions and the number of participants. If your business activity is a website, it could be the number of clicks.
  4. Outcomes are the changes your business activities bring about for the users after a specific amount of time (e.g. within 2 years). Examples include increased skills or knowledge, or an enlarged social network.
  5. Impact is the change in people’s lives you aim for on the long term, e.g. the target group finding a sustainable job. Revisit your solution tree and vision.
Source: 2018 My Social Startup ® De Punt, Seinwezen, Sociale InnovatieFabriek, University of Brighton, West Sussex County Council

Worksheets Impact framework_Theory of change

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