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Theory of Change and Logic Model

A theory of change is a specific method - or way of thinking - for the planning, delivery and evaluation of activities. It is used by many philanthropic, not-for-profit and government organisations. It usually starts with people thinking about their long-term goals before working backwards to identify challenges and opportunities.

Neither sport nor change can happen without support and successful interventions that consider the broader context, challenges and opportunities in which they operate.

Theory of Change

A theory of change is a specific method – or way of thinking – for the planning, delivery and evaluation of activities. It is used by many philanthropic, not-for-profit and government organisations. It usually starts with people thinking about their long-term goals before working backwards to identify challenges and opportunities.

A theory of change is essentially an illustration (diagram) of how a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context.

Diagram of theory of change, identify problem, identify desired results, then identify the actions required to achieve the results Theory of Change (download as a pdf file)

It is often complemented by a narrative consisting of statements such as “if we do this, assuming a particular context, then this will happen…”. A theory of change is conceptual and illustrates the plausibility of a programme achieving its intended impact.

STEPE

A STEPE analysis can be used to map external influences per heading – (S) social, (T) technological, (E) economic, (P) political and (E) environmental.

Diagram of STEPE headingsSTEPE model and exercise (download as a pdf file)

Logic Model

A logic model is a planning tool with a matrix structure, which provides an overview of a project’s goal, activities and anticipated results. Logic models provide a process for thinking through the programme design and ensuring it is optimised to achieve the desired goals. It also supports programme monitoring and evaluation before, during and after implementation.

Logic models are the actionable outcome of a theory of change, which has already required you to outline the activities and outcomes of an initiative. The logic model guides implementation in meaningful, actionable and evaluable steps.

Logic model showing Inputs, Outputs: activities and participation and Outcomes: short medium and long term Logic Model (download as a pdf file)

The further along the logic model one moves, the less control one has over results. As an implementing organisation, you can, to a certain extent, control your inputs or resources and activities, which translate into outputs (e.g. number of people reached). However, it is much harder to control whether these activities and outputs translate into results. Did reaching people actually improve these people’s health for example? And was it just your intervention – or were there other factors to consider? The diagram below illustrates this tension in greater detail.

Understanding control and influence

Theory of Change v Logic Model

A theory of change provides the basis of your development planning – it identifies what is expected to happen. A logic model is a matrix-based planning tool, based on your theory of change, to provide detail of activities for implementation and anticipated results.

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Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

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