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The Theory of Change (TOC)

The Theory of Change (TOC)
Theory of Change
© Hyun Shin, Hanyang University

As shown in the case of Bridge International Academies, good intentions are not enough.

You must carefully monitor and evaluate whether your efforts are indeed creating positive social change, i.e., that they are having a positive impact.

The Theory of Change (TOC) can help you figure this out. TOC describes the process of “making an impact” as having five stages: inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impacts.

For example, you want to help underprivileged kids to get a good education, and so you want to give them good materials with good information.

To do this, you need certain inputs: money, books, and staff members. With these inputs, you develop activities to achieve your goals. Activities might include recruiting volunteers, identifying kids in need, running book donation drives, figuring out how to store and deliver books once you have them, and gathering feedback from the community.

Your outputs are measures such as the number of books delivered, or the number of individuals who received a book. One of the outcomes would be students’ grades, and the impacts would include the future success of their career, and the quality of life (QoL) they achieve.

TOC is an extremely useful tool for determining resource allocation, which will be discussed in the next step.

© Hyun Shin, Hanyang University
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