IRIS Reports

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Theory of Change (OD6350)

Describes the theory of change of the organization.
Reporting format
Metric type
Metric level
Product/Service, Organization
IRIS metric citation
IRIS, 2016. Theory of Change (OD6350). v4.0.


Organizations should footnote the relevant details about their theory of change and whether it is publically disseminated. See usage guidance for further information.

Usage Guidance

  • A theory of change (also referred to as the Theory of Value Creation or Logic Model) is an expression of the sequence of cause-and-effect actions or occurrences by which organizational and financial resources are hypothesized to be converted into the desired social and environmental results. It provides a conceptual road map for how an organization expects to achieve its intended impact and is often displayed in a diagram. A theory of change can often be expressed as an if-then statement, specifying what the organization does and its expected results. A framework built around concepts of activities, inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impacts is called a logic model or impact value chain. Organizations can refer to the glossary for additional information and resources.
  • Organizations are encouraged to footnote information on the defined outcomes it seeks to achieve through its targeted beneficiaries (e.g., clients, employees, distributors, suppliers, and/or environment). Defined outcomes include specific targets that can be measured and/or those that are based on existing literature. Organizations are also encouraged to footnote information on the evidence base relied on to substantiate the logic chain linking outputs to defined outcomes (e.g., credible secondary research, randomized control trials (RCT), longitudinal study, primary research such as customer surveys, stakeholder feedback forums, qualitative interviews/case studies).
  • For example, an organization that provides training to, and sources from, smallholder farmers might only be able to report on the number of farmers trained (Individuals Trained: Total (PI2998)), the number of smallholder farmers sourced from (Supplier Individuals: Smallholder (PI9991)), and the total payments made to those farmers (Payments to Supplier Individuals: Total (PI1492)). However, it may have a theory of change that describes how these outputs lead to outcomes such as helping farmers build larger more productive farms, and impacts such as improved livelihoods, and point to external research that makes this connection.