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Theory of Change Based Project Monitoring, Measurement, Learning and Adaptation: Guidance and Methodology

Jennifer Himmelstein | Jacob Gray | Mandana Nikhai | Daniel Summer | ACDI/VOCA
Year Published:
Resource Type:
Technical Guidance

Over the past few decades, the development community has become more aware that the challenges people, communities, cities, and countries face are embedded within multiple inter-dependent and dynamic environmental, social, organizational, and political systems. Affecting change in complex environments requires a systems approach - one which looks at the interrelationships between parts of a system, as much as the parts themselves. Theory of Change (ToC) is a powerful, systems approach tool for project design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and learning in complex environments.

ToC has become a central project design framework for many bi- and multi-lateral institutions and foundations, including but not limited to USAID, DFID, the Gates Foundation, Annie E Casey foundation, and others. As ToC based project design has become more mainstream across the development community, there is a growing need for learning and sharing of best practices in ToC based project management, including monitoring and evaluation (M&E), to enhance outcome monitoring, measurement, learning, and adaptive actions in a ToC based project.

This document presents guidance, tools, and other resources to help an organization implement a ToC based project, including:

  1. Reviewing and refining a project ToC
  2. Prioritizing outcomes for monitoring, measuring, and learning
  3. Iterative monitoring, analysis, reflection, and learning
  4. Knowledge generation and dissemination
  5. Adaptive actions