Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Theory of Social Change

Many service agencies use some sort of Theory of Change or Logic Model to articulate their service provision goals. Both of these tools use a visual representation of work and outcomes in order to plan for impact and link it to daily work. The underlying purpose of these tools is to assess the "if-then" (causal) relationships between the elements of a program; if the resources are available for a program, then the activities can be implemented, if the activities are implemented successfully then certain outputs and outcomes can be expected. These models can be used for evaluation, but they are also great tools to use for program planning.

This discussion guide and exercise applies an adapted version of this familiar framework to your organization in order to help participants consider how service work differs when it incorporates social change goals. Both types of planning and impact are important. For organizations making a 5% shift towards incorporating more of a social change vision into service work and planning, the right-hand column of the worksheet that accompanies this discussion guide can be very useful in order to understand and expand the community impacts of the work.

Applying the Practice