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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 getting 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.


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: 




In the Theory of Change map above, we can see that there are three different outcome tracks linked to the Youth Employment Training Workshops, all ultimately resulting in the long-term outcome of securing employment. 


If young people attend the Youth Employment Training Workshop, 

Then…


  1. Young people become connected with employment and training opportunities (short-term outcome)


Leading to… young people having the opportunity to take on work experience (medium-term outcome) 


  1. Young people become aware of skill sets required to secure employment of their choice (short-term outcome)


Leading to… young people enrolling in industry-specific training after finishing school (medium-term outcome) 


  1. Young people have the opportunity to start thinking about their career pathways (short-term outcome)


Leading to… young people having set career goals (medium-term outcome)



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. 
  1. Arrange the post-it notes on a board, categorised, as short, medium and long-term outcomes 
  1. Draw links between the short, medium and long-term outcomes, with the intention of showing how one outcome leads to another.  


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

Dr Clara Ong
Cofounder and Social Impact Expert @ Socialsuite
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