The Making Connections guide

A guide to using a theory of change to develop planning and evaluation

What is it?

The Making Connections guide from the Charities Evaluation Service (CES – a UK provider of support and advice on quality and evaluation systems for the voluntary sector) is an introduction to the ‘theory of change’ approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation. This short (45 page) guide explains what 'theory of change’ is, why to use it and how to use it. 

It aims to help readers:

  • understand what the theory of change is (it calls a theory of change "a description of a social change initiative that shows how early changes relate to more intermediate changes and then to longer-term change")
  • see how it fits with other models of planning and evaluation
  • decide whether it is the right model for their organisation
  • develop their own theory of change.

Is it right for me?

The resource is an introduction to the 'theory of change' approach and is therefore most useful to those who are newer to thinking about how to understand impact.  Readers with more experience might find it is a useful checklist for things to think about when working on a 'theory of change'.

It includes detailed case studies of real examples of organisations using a 'theory of change' model, including a mental health advocacy organisation and an international healthcare organisation. It also develops a theory of change step-by-step for a fictitious project working with unemployed young people. It is aimed at any voluntary or community sector organisations, but it is helpful for youth organisations that the example is focused on work with young people.