Evaluation Glossary

Theory of change

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.


Anderson, A. A. (2005). The community builder’s approach to theory of change: A practical guide to theory development. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute.

Related Terms

Impact Theory
Logic Model
Logical Framework
Pathway of Change
Results Framework