Theory of Change

Create a "theory of change" for your program

A Theory of Change (TOC) describes how your programs will lead to your desired outcomes – i.e. how the transformative change happens. The value of a TOC comes from having to clearly connect your efforts to specific outcomes that constitute the "missing middle". Though doing something is often better than doing nothing, you can create a TOC relatively quickly, and it will greatly serve the impact you have.

Credit: Sidney Harris

An example for an education-focused allyship club TOC might be:

We focus on receptive men to enhance their willingness and ability to be better allies. Many men want to learn more, get involved, and take action, but they don't know how.

We provide educational materials, opportunities to listen to women's experiences, methods of self reflection, suggestions on behavior changes, and time to practice. 

As men become more competent and dedicated, they will naturally and positively affect the larger campus culture. They will slowly but surely raise awareness of men in their network who are reluctant but somewhat receptive to gender equity.

Simultaneously they will develop inclusive leadership skills that will allow them to continue their progress and make their future workplace cultures more inclusive.

Making your TOC explicit (within leadership) does a few things.

  • Creates clarity on analysis and scope of the problem
  • Names important stakeholders​
  • Identifies actions to take​
  • Outlines desired outcomes
  • Prompts discussion and alignment on unspoken beliefs and priorities. "I think we should focus first on the most enthusiastic men" versus "I think we should focus on the guys who need the most improvement".
  • Gives you the chance to evaluate whether your TOC is correct. "My TOC was that creating a safe space for men to discuss gender equity would naturally lead to men uncovering their biases, but in retrospect, the session may have only cemented them..."

There's no one "correct" TOC – it's about having a hypothesis, learning, and modifying.

Lastly, individual events and programs also have their own TOC which help guide their planning and implementation (check out our programs and events page).

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