A Theory of Action is a method organizations use to
plan their work around the outcomes and impact they
want to achieve.
Mapping out your Theory of Action is an essential part of clarifying strategies for change. It tells the story of
how communities and conditions will change because of your organization’s work, as well as how progress
will be tracked and measured. The process of creating a Theory of Action will help you identify key
assumptions underlying the work you do while also helping the entire organization get on the “same page”.
A Theory of Action differs from a Theory of Change in that a Theory of Change identifies all the processes
through which change is expected to occur, while a Theory of Action is more focused on a specific
pathway and an organization’s role in achieving a particular change.
This Action Evaluation Collaborative facilitation guide will help you design a Theory of Action. However,
the result of this effort should not be considered a fixed “answer”, or a final product. Instead, this process can
become part of your regular organizational planning practice. Facilitating your own Theory of Action
meeting is a way for you to understand the process and see first-hand how your work can be strengthened.
This guide will support you to facilitate the process within your organization. It is our hope that you will
continue to use this guide and the Theory of Action process as a basis for evaluation to strengthen planning,
learning, and reflection.