Unmesh Sheth 11/3/21 5:27 AM 7 min read

Beyond Theory of Change Template

The theory of change is a foundation for social purpose organizations. Yet, often many organizations trip up this process by excessively focusing on the theory of change.  The main goal is to improve the social impact of programs or investments.   However, organizations must adopt a more nimble and practical approach to improve social impact.  This article is an actionable step-by-step process that helps you go beyond the traditional theory of change template -- going impact experiment way!  The impact experiment starts with the pragmatic theory of change template but focuses on practical short and frequent impact experiments.

To understand, we share practical study.

Affordable Housing Theory Of Change

To illustrate that process, we will walk you through an example based on real estate or place-based investments. To demonstrate that, we take an example of affordable housing for thriving communities. A housing company is an Oakland, California-based company providing affordable housing in opportunity zones; their main goal is to empower underserved populations in the black and Hispanic communities by providing dignified and affordable housing. Ultimately the aim is to create wealth-building through homeownership among those who were disadvantaged in systematic inequality. At the same time, they do it. It is essential that they also keep an eye on some of the data. By not focusing on this core mission, it is very likely that in a balancing financial and social impact goal, they may create a gentrification process. They must attract the right people with the proper needs essentially to create a thriving community for all.

To start with, we have looked at the process in this video through the point of view of problems that focus on stakeholders and activities. We highly recommend not focusing on all of the objectives (outcomes) at once. In fact, by focusing on too many goals, then it would become a recipe for disasters. We have discussed how impact cloud can help streamline the process again. Depending on the purpose, different people have different approaches to designing the right strategy for impact justification to impact learning. Real Estate - (Housing Company) -


The process helps you start thinking about how to design and communicate impact in the most effective way. The core principle is to help you create an impact strategy that aligns with the theory of change or a logic model-based approach and integrates the process through the impact management process, which is the five dimensions of impact. Learn how to build a complete theory of change within Impact Cloud.


Theory Of Change Template

This section will walk through a systematic approach to designing the theory of change and impact experiments, which go hand in hand together. These templates reduce the complexity and are significant to demonstrate the framework effectively. We recommend adding the impact statement first as it will help you to frame the social issue that your organization is trying to tackle. The TOC steps from Outcome to Output to Input to Activities can be added either, at the same time ensuring that the outcome connects to the impact. As practitioners, you can easily add this framework to the Impact Cloud framework but we recommended you do this Excel-based Toolkit template first to make corrections and get feedback.  The final version of the TOC then can be plugged into the TOC template on the Impact Cloud platform. The Theory of Change plugged into the Impact Cloud platform can be shared with your stakeholders.  

Click here to download the theory of change and impact experiment template here first.

For effective use of the template above, we highly encourage you to understand the complete end of the end process. In the following video, you will clearly understand

  1.  How can I build clear evidence of my real impact?
  2. What are the best ways to collect impact evidence?
  3. How can I have continuous impact learning?
  4. How can I understand the complexities of multi-dimensional impact issues?

We have found that the problem is not the traditional theory of change, defining indicators, and collecting data but how it is applied. So many times, we see organizations creating a theory of change with 15+ outcomes and 50+ indicators and metrics! Understanding one outcome is hard enough, and organizations wanting to measure 15 is nearly impossible. The core problem with this approach is that it leads organizations to get into an endless analysis mode. More importantly, it gets in the way of understanding actionable social impact evidence. A new way to maximize social impact is,

1) Connect with stakeholders rather than Theory of Change

2) Conduct social impact experiments

3) Simplify data collection to measure what matters

This video is for organizations that engage directly with their stakeholders and understand their social impact evidence. The webinar will show you how you can prove social impact using four simple steps.


Theory of Change example -Template

To further understand, click on the live theory of change created within Impact Cloud. Please know that this is a draft theory of change, and every affordable housing program must be personalized based on essential impact experiments.

Affordable Housing Theory Of Change From Impact Cloud®

Affordable Housing Theory Of Change


White theory of change is a foundation; it is just a step.  The purpose of the theory of change template is to provide a blueprint that focuses on critical challenges for any social purpose organization.

  • What is an immediate outcome that you should focus
  • Is outcome important to stakeholders?
  • Can you control the outcome, or does it have external dependencies?
  • Can you collect feedback from stakeholders to improve outcomes?

Read More

- Theory Of Change

- Theory of Action

- Design Effective Impact Experiment


Unmesh Sheth

32 years of track record In technology companies, innovation, leadership. Deep understanding of bottom-up and top-down data trust challenges in high impact philanthropy and impact investments.