Theory of Change: Laying the Foundation for Right-Fit Data Collection

The first step in designing a right-fit data collection strategy is to create a solid theory of change. A theory of change is a clear visual map that represents how a program will make an impact on the world. It illustrates what goes into a program, what gets done, and how the world is expected to change as a result.

A theory of change supports right-fit data collection in several ways: by pointing organizations to the elements of the program they need to track to ensure it is operating as planned; by providing a foundation for impact measurement by differentiating the outputs to be tracked from the outcomes to be measured using a credible counterfactual; and by generating credible research questions.

The Goldilocks Initiative does not offer a complete manual on building a theory of change—many resources exist for that—but here we break down the basics of creating a theory of change and explain how a clear theory, together with the CART principles, can provide the foundation for a strong, right-fit system of data collection.

Publication type: 
Goldilocks Toolkit
Developing Organization: 
January 05, 2016
February 2016
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Copyright 2016 Innovations for Poverty Action. Theory of Change: Laying the Foundation for Right-Fit Data Collection is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Users are free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format.