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This content is taken from the The International Platform on Sport and Development, Commonwealth Secretariat & Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)'s online course, Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes. Join the course to learn more.

Create your theory of change

Before you begin outlining any activities for a development initiative, it is really important to create a theory of change first.

The theory of change should form the central hypothesis for your initiative - a point of reference that helps you justify why this particular initiative is important, relevant, and maps to the change you hope to make with it.

Even if you are excited to get started with activities or stakeholders are applying pressure, the theory of change is crucial before progressing. Without it, you run the risk of creating a portfolio of activities that have no bearing on the envisioned change.


Using the framework below and building on from steps 1.5 and 1.11, identify the following ToC components for your initiative:

  • Step 1: Identify the problem
  • Step 2: Identify results
  • Step 3: Outline the strategies
  • Step 4: Define underlying assumptions

When developing your theory of change, remember to reflect on the cross-cutting themes of all sport and development initiatives:

  • Rights: human rights and participant welfare
  • Diversity and inclusion: gender and discrimination, disability, safeguarding
  • Environmental sustainability
Screenshot of handout Create your theory of change
This workbook offers an opportunity to capture your initial thoughts about your own project, and to consider how to apply theory of change, STEPE and logic models to your planning process (pdf)

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This article is from the free online course:

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

The International Platform on Sport and Development