Glossary

A comprehensive impact management glossary with hundreds of terms and counting.

When it comes to managing impact, many terms mean different things to different people, or different words are often used to mean the same thing. This glossary attempts to clarify the similarities and differences in language usage among a number of impact-focused disciplines that often interact.

If you want to know how the glossary was developed, what references are cited, how to have a term added to the glossary, or you want to contact the editing team, let us know at team@impactmanagementproject.com.

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  • Theory of Change (TOC)

Theory of Change (TOC)

Evaluation

A comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused in particular on mapping out or “filling in” what has been described as the “missing middle” between what a program or change initiative does (its activities or interventions) and how these lead to desired goals being achieved. It does this by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then works back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place (and how these related to one another causally) for the goals to occur.

Related: Impact thesis, Impact chain, Value chain, Logical framework, Logframe, Impact map, Logic model, Impact value chain

Commentary

Theories of change are one of the most common causal-based models used for planning and evaluation. Others include logic models, results chains, value chains, outcome maps, impact maps, and logframes. There are differences in the design of these models–for example theories of change allow for more complex causal pathways than logic models and results chains–but in practice some of these differences are not apparent and these terms are sometimes used as synonyms.

Practice & Source: