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New Webinar: The Power of a Theory of Change

By Nell Edgington

feb_08_2158_sunriseAs I’ve said many times before, it’s no longer enough for nonprofits to do “good work.” Funders, policy makers, board members are increasingly demanding that nonprofits explain what change they exist to create. With increasing competition for social change dollars it is absolutely crucial that nonprofit organizations develop their own theory of change. This Social Velocity webinar “The Power of a Theory of Change” can help you do just that.

A theory of change is basically an argument for why a nonprofit exists. It describes how an organization uses community resources (money, volunteers, clients) to perform a set of activities which result in changes to the clients’ lives (outcomes) and changes to broader communities, institutions, or systems (impact).

Essentially a theory of change describes how a nonprofit creates social change.

It used to be enough for a nonprofit to talk about what it produced (or outputs), such as meals served in a soup kitchen, hours spent reading to a child, beds provided in a homeless shelter, but that just doesn’t cut it anymore. In a world where there are fewer and fewer dollars and more and more nonprofits fighting for those dollars, people are increasingly asking the question “To What End?” So what if you created outputs, did anything really change because of your work? Did the lives of those in your program change and did the community change?

That’s where a theory of change comes in. If you can articulate what change you hope your organization is creating, then with that fundamental building block in place you can:

  • Chart a strategic direction
  • Prove your results
  • Secure more support for your organization

And ultimately achieve the holy grail of the nonprofit sector: sustainable community change.

The “Power of a Theory of Change” webinar will help you:

  • Understand what a theory of change is and how it can help your nonprofit
  • Develop your nonprofit’s own theory of change
  • Connect your mission to your new theory of change
  • Learn how to use your theory of change to chart a strategic direction
  • Use your theory of change to attract more funding
  • Help your board understand its power

Webinar Details:
On Demand Webinar
Download Now

And remember, all Social Velocity webinars are available as on demand downloads, so even if you can’t make this date and time you can still register for the webinar and get access to all of the content.

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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (, a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.

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3 Comments to New Webinar: The Power of a Theory of Change

Colin Rice
February 14, 2013

It seems to me that ‘theories of change’ is the logical evolution of the mission statement in today’s nonprofit world of transparency, metrics, and data. It’s certainly longer and more involved, but donors and investors today want more than to know the desired end result, they want the steps and processes that will achieve it, as well as proof that these actions work. Not to say a mission statement isn’t still important and crucial. As much detail as you’re able (and encouraged) to go into, if you can’t also state what your organization hopes to achieve in a sentence or two, you may need to reevaluate your focus and goals. More here:

Nell Edgington
February 15, 2013

Colin, thanks for the comment and link to the article. I do, however, think that the way an organization creates a mission statement should be more complex. Nonprofits need to understand their place in the market and what value they are creating for the community and craft their vision and mission statements from that. They should be compelling and inspiring. In any event, a theory of change is the starting point for all of this.

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