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IPAL: Developing a theory of change. A guide to developing a theory of change as a framework for inclusive dialogue, learning and accountability for social impact.

Author: IPAL - Keystone
Publication date: 2009

This guide helps social purpose organizations to plan, monitor, evaluate and communicate their work in a way that makes practical sense of the complexity of social change processes and their measurement.

The guide is part of the IPAL tool suite that helps organizations create a framework for developing strategies, building partnerships, planning interventions, gathering evidence of success or failure and, most importantly, analyzing and learning from this evidence through open dialogue among constituents and stakeholders who have a real interest in change.

Using detailed illustrations, the guide provides step-by-step, activity based methods to construct a theory of change, splitting the task into the following components:

  • Step 1 – Develop a vision of Success
  • Step 2 – Mapping the Preconditions of Success
  • Step 3 – System Mapping

The guide presents how to progress from theory to strategy and concludes by providing a comparison of logical framework and theory of change approaches and a case study of the theory of change approach in action.