Mapping change: using a theory of change of guide planning and evaluation

This guide, written by Anne MacKinnon and Natasha Arnott for GrantCraft, describes the process of developing a theory of change in order support planning and evaluation. The guide focuses on: describing what a theory of change looks like; comparing theory of change vs. logic model; and outlining a mini-case study to demonstrate how a theory of change can be effectively used for strategic planning.


"By making explicit the interrelated strands a complex initiative, a theory of change can draw out the questions a grantmaker will want to be asking over time, either through formal evaluations or more informal monitoring. For example, an actual theory of change for a national field-building initiative posits that long-term success will depend on expanding knowledge in a relatively new area of practice. Strategically, therefore, the grantmaker expects to commission a range of scholarly and applied research, then support activities to help people in the field absorb and aggregate what is learned."


  • What is a theory of change?
  • Why would a grant maker develop and use a theory of change?
  • Mini-case study: theory of change as the basis for strategic planning.
  • Common questions about theory of change


MacKinnon, A. and Arnott, N. (2006). Mapping change: using a theory of change of guide planning and evaluation, GrantCraft. Retrieved from:

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