8 Steps to a TOC by Hivos

September 2021
10 min read

What is the point of this document? 
Hivos’ ‘Theory of Change Thinking in Practice’ is formulated a series of guidelines for organisations to monitor and evaluate progress in achieving societal change. Achieving such change can be a very messy and complicated process, so Hivos have developed an 8 point “stepwise” approach to help maximise chances of successful adherence to Theories of Change(ToC). 
Who wrote it? 
Hivos is an international NGO that is dedicated towards the resolution of pressing global issues through community-based approaches that empower marginalised voices.  
Who is it meant for? 
This document is written for organisations seeking to enact change within society. In this document there is a very handy table that points readers towards the relevant sections based on experience and staff roles.  
Why should I read it? 
Through an organisation-wide approach, Hivos documents approaches to:   

  • Build shared understandings, assumptions, and goals to avoid future challenges  
  • Narrow the gap between ambitious goals and the realistic outcomes  
  • Identify knowledge gaps and areas, assumptions and biases for teams in which to improve 

Key takeaways:  

  • A theory of change (ToC) is a framework that recognises the complex systems that form our societies and uses a multi-pronged strategy in order to create an environment necessary for change to take place.  
  • Viewing change as a complex, somewhat unpredictable process, ToC are now used in program and research design, in direct contrast to its predecessor, the Logistical Framework (Logframe) which views change as a simpler, linear process that can easily be dissected. 
  • Hivos’ approach to developing a ToC does not seek to predict change, but instead understand why change occurs. Identifying the why enables organisations to support positive change when it does happen. It also notes the ways that a multitude of factors (eg. political, cultural and social forces) must be addressed in order to contribute to change.  
  • It is of the utmost importance for there to be considerations for diversity, gender inclusion and acknowledging power inequalities. Hivos places heavy emphasis recognising the need for stakeholders to be consulted when developing ToC. 
  • An emphasis is also placed upon making the results of the ToC process as accessible as possible, so that those who did not participate in its creation may understand it. Hivos also provides some useful tools to enable acessibility.  

Link to full report:  

Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash