A theory of change can be a helpful tool for developing solutions to complex social problems. At its most basic, a theory of change explains how a group of early and intermediate accomplishments sets the stage for producing long-range results. A more complete theory of change articulates the assumptions about the process through which change will occur, and specifies the ways in which all of the required early and intermediate outcomes related to achieving the desired long-term change will be brought about and documented as they occur.

The Community Builder’s Approach to Theory of Change: A Practical Guide to Theory Development is for planners and evaluators who are going to facilitate a process for creating a theory of change with community- based programs and community change initiatives. It was designed as a “refresher course” for planners, evaluators, and others who have attended one of the Roundtable’s Theory of Change Workshops,2 but we fully expect experienced facilitators will be able to quickly learn and apply the method as described in this guide. Please visit our web site, www.theoryofchange.org, for updated information and additional examples.