Inspired by the success of the Theory of Change on major projects, the CSIA team took the opportunity to step their own business through the process.

Taking the time to plan for and evaluate outcomes is a daunting task for most of us.

At CSIA, we have experienced significant growth in our program of works. In delivering the range of projects, we found an easier and more effective way to tackle goals, outcomes and evaluation using a proven, evidence-based framework.

When we saw the positive impact and support the Theory of Change framework was bringing, we knew it would work for our strategic planning. And, it will bring the same support and benefits to your organisation.

What is Theory of Change?

Theory of Change is a visual process of mapping out activities and outcomes to lead to your end goal. Linking activities precisely to an end goal gives a better understanding of the purpose of your organisation’s activities. In effect, resulting in more purposeful planning, strengthens determination and easier evaluation of programs.

How CSIA applies Theory of Change

CSIA CEO Belinda Drew says the organisation has been using the framework across the organisation’s program of work.

Hearing so many success stories evolve from this process cemented the benefits and CSIA decided to step the business operations through the process.

“Sometimes having conversations about outcomes seems too big and hard to tackle. The benefit of the Theory of Change process is it feels like a mountain you can actually climb.”

Social designer, Dr Ingrid Burkett worked with the CSIA team to develop the Theory of Change. Dr Burkett has consulted for CSIA on the Homelessness Investment Project and Inclusion Ready to design better outcomes for industry.

CSIA’s Theory of Change provides the organisation with a better framework and a shared understanding for evaluating impact and success over time.

“It helped us take what seemed like a big, unreachable long-term goal and break it down into things we can measure and talk about succinctly,” Ms Drew said.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry we have the information you need to start your Theory of Change journey.

Who should I involve in the Theory of Change process?

Involving your staff and board in the Theory of Change process ensures everyone has a strong understanding of what the organisation is doing and why. In addition, working through the process is a great team-building exercise.

“It’s a great process for all of the organisation to do. And, it’s so visual that it lends itself well as a workshop involving board and staff all together,” Ms Drew said.

You may also want to consider talking to relevant stakeholders, partners and colleagues about your Theory of Change for industry feedback.

How do I build a Theory of Change?

Many organisations contract an experienced Theory of Change consultant. Provided they are briefed well and have a solid understanding of your organisation, it’s worth investing the money.

If you don’t have the budget for a consultant, there are resources online outlining the Theory of Change process. Also, it’s worth checking out the Creating a co-design Theory of Change booklet created by the Queensland Disability Network. While this booklet is for inclusion projects, it provides an easy to understand overview of the process. It provides a fun and interactive way to use it in your organisation.

Attend a Theory of Change workshop

A great way to learn how the Theory of Change framework can work for you is to attend a workshop. Armed with the resources, knowledge and tools you can walk your organisation through the process.

Dr Samantha Abbato from Visual Insights People worked with CSIA to deliver the series of workshops as part of the Inclusion Ready Project. Dr Abbato employs a dynamic and collaborative approach in her Stories of Change to Theories of Change workshops.

Participants leave with the ability to tell their story in a meaningful way. Not to mention, a tool to bring about change in their organisation.

If you are looking to develop a Theory of Change, keep in touch with CSIA for more examples and insights. Sign up to Ignite enews below to be the first to receive information.