Hivos International

Theory of change guidelines

Want to know better how your interventions can contribute to change? A Theory of Change (ToC) approach helps in deepening your understanding - and that of your partners - of how you collectively think change happens and what the effect will be of your intervention. Not only does it show what political, social, economic, and/or cultural factors are in play, it also clarifies your assumptions. Once a ToC has been developed, it can be used to continually reflect on it in ways that allow for adaptation and checking of assumptions of your intervention. This user friendly guideline helps you to use a Theory of Change approach.

In the context of complexity, Hivos has found a theory of change (ToC) approach useful in guiding its strategic thinking and action, as well as its collaborative efforts with others. As it fosters critical questioning of all aspects of change interventions and supports adaptive planning and management in response to diverse and quickly changing contexts. It contributes to the quality and transparency of strategic thinking, and therefore to personal, organisational and social learning.

This guide builds on the experiences of Hivos working with a ToC approach. It is a practical guide for Hivos staff in applying a Theory of Change approach, but is also very useful for others working on social change such as social entrepreneurs and innovators. This guide builds on the work of a ToC Learning Group initiated by Hivos and comprising of staff of the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) of Wageningen University and Research Centre and of experts Iñigo Retolaza Eguren, Isabel Vogel and Irene Guijt. For current thinking and work on the use of Theory of Change thinking in complex change processes, see

This link will navigate you to the Arabic translation of the Theory of Change Guidelines.


Related Publications

Sazza on behalf of Hivos

In recent years there has been an increased interest in applying Theory of Change (ToC) thinking as a way to operate more strategically and effectively in complex change processes. ToC refers to the understanding...

Hivos Rights Reserved

The purpose of this paper is to explain Hivos’ understanding and use of the concept ‘Theory of Change’, which has become increasingly important in its strategic thinking.

The paper is meant to inform external...

What is a Theory of Change (ToC) and why is it important? This guide to understanding and developing a ToC shows how a ToC helps to configure the conditions needed to achieve desired change,...

Sazza on behalf of Hivos

وُلد هذا الدليل نتيجة الاختبارات التي أُجرِيَت على تطبيق نظريّة التغيير على أرض الواقع والدروس

المستخلَصة من هذا الأمر، وذلك بدءًا من العام 2007. جرى تطوير النهج الذي نعرضه هنا على امتداد

,الوقت، وعبْر...