October 9, 2013
Insights on Change

Have you ever made the connection between cleaning out a messy drawer or cupboard and developing a theory of change? Well, Tina Cheplick, Informing Change Senior Consultant has. Her new blog post describes how our clients, deep in their work, are often pursuing multiple strategies while scanning the environment for opportunities and threats and building their understanding of what works and what doesn't. Over time, these strands of knowledge and experience can become tangled and confused. In her blog post, Tina shares the gratifying experience of using a theory of change to make sense of this abundance of information. Learn More 



Informing Change utilizes an engaging theory of change process in evaluation and strategy development work to help articulate social change initiatives. A theory of change provides a clear description of the problems an organization, program or initiative is setting out to address; the strategies it employs to tackle the problem; the target constituencies that will be reached by the strategies; and the desired short- and long-term outcomes. We accompany a theory of change with a document of key assumptions and contextual issues that may influence or guide the work. By listing and organizing the building blocks required to achieve long-term goals, a theory of change lays out a roadmap showing the pathways and interventions necessary to reach the intended results. Learn more about our theory of change process and approach.  

 

Stories of Change 

Our work with the Jim Joseph Foundation highlights several applications of a theory of change process. Over the years, we have had the pleasure of working with the Foundation and a number of its grantees to evaluate key initiatives. We launch these evaluation efforts by collaboratively developing a  theory of change, both to create a frame for the evaluation and to ensure a mutual understanding of the intentions and expected results of the work across the invested players. For longer-term initiatives, we build in time to revisit the rationale and components of the theory of change and make adjustments as needed, informed by actualized practice, recognizing the reality of strategic shifts and remaining agile in our work together.
 

Informing Change also supported the Foundation in developing a Foundation-wide theory of change and logic models for its three strategic funding priorities. These tools provide strategic alignment for the Foundation's work and serve as means for communicating the Foundation's priorities and intended outcomes to both internal and external audiences. Jim Joseph Foundation Executive Director Charles "Chip" Edelsberg, Ph.D., describes the benefit from these applied theory of change processes, as well as the subsequent evaluation work, to guiding philanthropic practices: 

 

"The Jim Joseph Foundation has benefited in real, tangible ways in its work with Informing Change. The Foundation generously allocates resources for evaluation of its major grants, and it relies on independent assessment of those investments to inform its philanthropy.                        

           

Informing Change consistently provides us--the Foundation and its grantees--with thoughtful, analytical, rigorously researched, formative and summative evaluations. Its reports are timely, well organized, visually engaging, and instructive.

 

The Foundation seeks to continuously improve its performance; Informing Change is helping the Jim Joseph Foundation realize this goal."

 

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Informing change with integrity, intelligence and compassion.
Informing Change is a woman-owned strategic consulting firm that partners with foundations and nonprofit organizations to improve their effectiveness and inform organizational and field-wide learning. Our information-based services include evaluation, applied research and strategy development. Our work is guided by our core values-integrity, intelligence and compassion-and our experience extends across diverse contexts, populations and content areas, including education, health, youth engagement, leadership and philanthropy.