ARTICLE • 5 min

Ready to level up? Learn how to create a powerful Theory of Change for your organization

As you get more familiar with the concept of a Theory of Change, start thinking about how you can create multiple outcome tracks inside your Theory of Change.

Need a refresher? Read our article on how to get started with your first Theory of Change

Remember, a Theory of Change refers to intended consequences using the concept of if-then.

If we deliver this program, then these things will be achieved.

If we keep youth engaged, then we prevent anti-social youth behaviours.

If we provide housing services to the homeless, then we keep vulnerable people off the streets.

Mapping out your Theory of Change is an incredibly powerful tool to visualise the short, medium and long-term intended consequences of a program. We refer to these consequences as outcomes – the change in people’s skills, behaviours, knowledge, attributes and values.

Learn what the difference between an output and an outcome is.

If we deliver this program,

Then we achieve… (short-term outcome)

Leading to…(medium-term outcome)

Ultimately resulting in… (long-term outcome)

A Theory of Change with multiple outcome tracks simply has a series of different if-then statements.

Let’s use our Youth Employment Training Workshop again as our example.

A Youth Employment Training Workshop is delivered each school term, where young people are introduced to local employers and industry training opportunities.

Multiple outcome tracks for the Workshop’s Theory of Change might look like this:

Let’s re-visit our football program as the next example.

A local community centre runs youth football matches twice a week during each school term. The intended outcomes of these matches are to keep young people engage, and to cultivate team-building skills.

Multiple outcome tracks for this program’s Theory of Change might look like this:

In the Theory of Change map above, we can see that there are two different outcome tracks linked to the football program, both ultimately resulting in the long-term outcome of achieving positive self-perception.

Does your program have multiple outcome tracks? Have a go at linking up the different outcomes.

Three simple steps to get you started:

  1. Write down all the intended consequences, or outcomes, of your program onto post-it notes using the if-then logic explained above.
  2. Arrange the post-it notes on a board, categorised, as short, medium and long-term outcomes
  3. Draw links between the short, medium and long-term outcomes, with the intention of showing how one outcome leads to another.

Learn about the outcomes that social service organisations are measuring now.

Did you know that Socialsuite comes with a curated library of outcome measurement metrics that have been designed to measure sector-specific outcome domains, meaning that you can choose from a list of metrics to validate your Theory of Change without needing to start on a blank canvas? Try Socialsuite for free today.

Dr Clara Ong
Cofounder and Social Impact Expert @ Socialsuite
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