Theory of Change


Theory of Change is essentially a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context.
It works backwards from your long-term highest goals, back to practical first steps.

This tool or this can help you visualize your work on this important foundation for your activities.

Here are 10 steps with proven methodologies on how to craft a successful social movement strategy:

1 Start peaceful
Here’s the evidence that it’s more successful!


2 Understand your environment


3 Think big – create a societal tipping point
Find out about the science here. And read about climate solutions.


4 Find your pillar of focus
(here is a 350.org training around the PillarsOfSupport)


5 Create an Influence Map
and re-frame the conversation based on the values
of your audiences and be mindful of polarization.


6 Do a Social Landscape Analysis


7 Create SMART goals & plan ahead …but stay agile
(see Campaign Planning for detailed processes and tips for each action)

A very good Step-by-Step Guide to Direct Action. What It Is, What It’s Good for, How It Works.


8 Be in it for the long game
Find out more here.


9 Move your activists up the Engagement Pyramid


10 Criteria for assessing the evaluability of Theories of Change
(also see Digital Success for measuring insights of your digital actions)

The DIY Theory of Change Toolkit & Training has been especially designed for development practitioners to invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better results.

Here’s another video taking you through an example Exercise (topic: HIV) and here the template:

The Commons Social Change Library is an online collection of educational resources on campaign strategy, community organising, digital campaigning, communications and media, working effectively in groups, fundraising, diversity and inclusion and much more.

Bonus: good Sunrise Movememts post to a 4 step plan to build up local activism/power

Example Theory of Change- Climate Outreach

Our theory of change sets out why the work we do matters, and how we’re going to get from where we are to where we need to be. Why is building a social mandate for climate action so important? We’re convinced we cannot tackle climate change without broad-based public engagement.

Responding to climate change requires accelerated action across society and around the world, by placing people at the heart of tackling this critical issue.

Technological advances as well as regulations, policies and laws are necessary for tackling climate change but these won’t work in the long term without the active engagement and buy-in of citizens. This informed consent for action is what’s known as a social mandate – and we believe it’s how real change happens. Download

Move fast and break things
Move fast and break things

First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi

(click to expand)

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