Resource Library

Theory of Change Training Curriculum

Laurie Starr
Organizational Authors: 
The TOPS Program
Year Published: 

Currently the international development community (practitioners and donors alike) shows great interest in using a theory of change (TOC) as the development hypothesis for projects. The reasons for this shift are many. Compared to other processes, a TOC requires a more in-depth causal analysis of issues---one that is rooted in a rigorous and evolving evidence base. Developing and using a TOC builds common understanding among stakeholders around the actions needed to achieve desired changes. Additionally, a TOC allows for efficient monitoring, learning, and evaluation based on a clear and testable set of hypotheses.

Diverse guidance exists on how to best design and use a TOC. In this curriculum (Theory of Change: Facilitator’s Guide and all accompanying materials),  we present one method that does its best to align to the requirements of creating a development hypothesis for Development Food Security Activities (DFSA) funded by USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP). Previous experience in program and TOC development, participant feedback from six years of TOPS workshops, and input from the FFP Monitoring and Evaluation Team all helped craft this curriculum. We update it each year to align to the most current FFP guidance for DFSA implementers and to share newly discovered training tips.

Clicking on the photo to the right allows you to download the full curriculum (Facilitators' Guide, Slide decks, Handouts, Tools, The TOC Checklist, etc.).  Those with slower connections may select each component individually from the list below the photo. 
The technical content of this DRAFT version (September 2018) is completely up-to-date and aligned with the latest Food for Peace requirements and expectations. However, a final version of this edition of the guide will be published in 2019, which will include some minor formatting and wording changes. While the format of the 2018 version models earlier editions, the content has substantially changed to better align to USAID’s Office of Food for Peace requirements. The TOPS Program recommends that applicants and awardees for FFP-funded activities no longer reference earlier versions, as some content is no longer accurate.