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Theory of change

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Understanding Models for your ILC grant applications

Outcomes’ are the things that change for people because of an activity or action. And you will need to be clear about your project outcomes and how you will measure them when you make your Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant application.

This is because you need to demonstrate the real difference your services or project will be making to people with disability.

Planning and measuring outcomes can seem like a daunting process but it doesn’t have to be.

The key things you will need to do are:

  • Make sure you understand outcomes when designing your project
  • Consider how you will measure the project outcomes
  • Establish an outcomes map, like a theory of change model.

Let us introduce you to the Theory of Change Model, a useful tool for mapping and measuring. It’s so useful that we used it for delivering the Inclusion Ready project.

What is Theory of Change (TOC)?

Once mapped out, a TOC is an illustration of the desired change and how it is expected to happen. It’s a mapping process between what a project or change initiative does (activities or interventions) and the steps that lead to the desired outcome. For you this would centre around how a project would create greater inclusion for people with disability.

TOC helps with planning, participation and evaluation to promote social change. Many organisations engage an experienced TOC consultant to guide them through the process. Doing this can save you time even if it does involve an initial financial investment.

There are lots of TOC resources online to help you to work through your process yourself too:

  • http://www.theoryofchange.org/
  • http://learningforsustainability.net/theory-of-change/
  • https://knowhownonprofit.org/how-to/how-to-build-a-theory-of-change

What do I need to know to get started?

Firstly, you need to understand what outcomes are and why they have to be measured. We also strongly encourage you to work through the ILC story builder so you have a good understanding of your project. It will map out the journey of your project.

Make sure you understand what outcomes you are committing to in your application. You can read more about What are outcomes? and ILC outcomes, which provide a comprehensive overview to get you started.

Measuring outcomes. Here the ILC toolkit takes you through creating a measurement framework to help you work out how you will not only measure your outcomes but the data that you will need to collect.

How do I build a TOC for my project?

Once you have completed the steps in the ILC toolkit and attended one of our ILC Application Skills Workshops, you will have the information you need to start working through your TOC.

We encourage you to engage with a TOC consultant to help you with these steps.

The Inclusion Ready Provider Readiness Project that has a TOC. You can find it in our resources section of the website. You will see that it has considered the following to allow us to work through how we are meeting our outcomes and also measuring them:

  • What are the challenges your project is responding to, that is what inclusion gap are you trying to fill? Maybe there are many components within it that you need to list
  • Identify the desired long-term goals or business goals

Then you can work through:

  • The activities you need to do and how you will do these.
  • The outputs these will create, that is what will it result in.
  • The outcomes, what will these activities and outputs eventually lead to.

Why should I include a TOC in my ILC grant application?

You need to show your proposed outcomes but also how you measure them in your ILC grant application. A TOC is a well-known methodology that allows you evaluate and report back on your grant to show you have achieved or are well on your way to achieving your outcomes.

It shows that you have understood the brief and have what you need in place to effectively use the grant money should you be successful.

We have received feedback that applications are not including this key information or that people are not understanding what it means. Now is the time to prepare yourself, send us questions, talk to your ILC network.

You can also find out more at the ILC Application Skills Workshop at locations across Queensland. These two-hour hands-on workshops will build your organisation’s capability and capacity to make an ILC grant application: individually or in collaboration. You can also use our suite of tools and resources to help you develop your application.