Complete Guide to Build 

Theory Of Change Software

Impact Statement | TOC | Indicators | SDG | Data Strategy

Actionable Impact Management

What is Theory of Change (TOC)?

 Theory of Change is a cause-effect relation mechanism used to connect the dots between the intended outcome and actions taken. A simple example would be improving public transport to attract foreign direct investment. At first look, they seem largely unrelated but if we connect points it seems like a reasonable step toward the intended outcome.

  1. Better public transport helps industries attract talent from far-off areas in the city.
  2. Increased public access to industrial areas results in more and cheaper employment.
  3. This makes cheaper industrial areas and outskirts of city/town a viable business location.
  4. Thus, making it a good ground to attract investors both foreign and domestic markets.

Watch and Learn

Chris Gaines, SoPact Lead Trainer gives in-depth understanding of theory of change with examples


This is one scenario that defines how our intended outcome resulted from the initiative. In reality, the theory of change models is more complicated. They take into account all the possible scenarios (good or bad) and highlight all possible assumptions taken and prerequisites needed for us to achieve the objective.

For example, what if increased public accessibility to employment increases competition and lowers payscale? In the absence of enough land/infrastructure in the industrial areas and outskirts new companies might not be attracted thus, there will be more competition for existing jobs and no social or economic benefit from our investment.

This immense complexity in defining and implementing the Theory of Change models requires us to use specialized tools to back up our thought process and result in a working model. Today, software like ImpactCloud are not just able to build Theory of Change models but also connect them to Impact Metrics hence, resulting in a 360-degree view of the planned action to the intended goal.

In this article, we will see how Impact Cloud® helps at different stages of Theory of Change implementation all the while exploring the model in further detail. Let’s dive in.

To start with building a TOC model you can refer step by step guidance in Actionable Impact Management Guidebook Volume One: Groundwork


Steps for effective TOC software implementationEach step works as guideline and should be executed in the order suggested. Skipping steps can result in inconsistencies in the social impact measurement strategy you are designing. You can also use the templates provided in this Guidebook. 


Read More: 5 Ways to Improve Your Non-Profit TOC Model

Watch and Learn

Chris Gaines, SoPact lead trainer explains how to build an effective impact strategy based on a theory of change for learning and reporting purpose


Impact Statement & Outcome Mapping for TOC Software

Starting With Impact Statement

Impact Statement is a foundational impact principle for organization, program or project.  We recommend creating a precise "impact thesis."  

Theory Of Change

Where do you start?

  • Define your mission
  • Define your vision
  • How to define mission and vision?

The groundwork eBook gives you a step by step process to create mission & vision. Click below e-book guide to create your Mission & Vision.


As you create theory of change (TOC) Wizard, your first step will be to define an Impact Statement as follows.


Impact statement for TOC implementation




Impact & Outcome Mapping - Theory Of Change Map

As you define a detailed theory of change, you will need to define a complete impact map. Impact Map in Impact Cloud guides you through the following steps.  As you create an impact map you can link between each area:

  • Impact 
  • Outcome
  • Output
  • Activity
  • Input


Theory Of Change Diagram

Theory of Change Software Impact Map


The key steps for theory of change diagrams are

  • Aligning impact map or theory of change map
  • Aligning impact indicators
  • Aligning with risk, assumptions and other documentation
  • Aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals 


Theory of Change Software in 2020

Impact Cloud provides a unique theory of change wizard that starts with impact strategy and ends with impact reporting, and facilitates the improvement of outcomes in an iterative way.  The TOC Wizard is an innovative product designed to build a strategy for mission-driven organizations. 


Watch and Learn

Unmesh Sheth, Founder, and CEO of SoPact gives a walkthrough of the theory of change development, best practices and alignment with impact metrics. A step-by-step wizard helps build an Integrated Impact Statement, Impact Map, Global/Customer Indicators and Strategy aligned with an organizational Impact Thesis.


Aligning Theory Of Change Software with Social Impact Indicators

Standard Impact Indicators

The Theory of Change Wizard facilitates rapid alignment of your theory of change with global impact metrics defined by various standard bodies - for example you can see list of available indicator or metrics sets.

In addition, TOC Wizard lets any certified social impact practitioners save and publish theory of change and/or indicator or metrics set for others.

Impact Cloud is continuously updating new impact metrics.  A list of current metrics list can be found here. 


Custom Impact Indicators

While we recommend using standard metrics for communicating with funders, for internal performance it is necessary to establish more common metrics and program specific metrics.

Within any custom metrics set created, users can also manage metadata for dynamically creating both qualitative and quantitative reporting documents with over 20+ reporting formats.  These reporting formats act as validation rules when collecting results from external partners on a pre-defined frequency or ad-hoc basis.

In addition, data strategy also encourages intelligent alignment with:

Data Strategy:

  • Impact Thesis
  • Data Sources
  • Create smart formulas to collect results on a pre-defined frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly etc)


From Theory Of Change to Social Impact Measurement with Cloud Platforms

Align Data Strategy with Theory Of Change

Perhaps the most important and innovative aspect of building impact strategy in these ways is that you can instantaneously align your current data with a theory of change.

With this approach:

  • Metrics can aligned using formulas with all data sources
  • Data collection gaps can be easily uncovered
  • The best strategy for input, output and outcome-related data can be identified

The following steps indicate how you can align with any of your external or internal data.  These data are collected in Project Portfolio. Data can be in the form of data from outside sources, internal data in Impact Cloud, third party surveys or Impact Cloud surveys for measuring outcomes.

The best part is that users can preview all the results as soon as they link them using a formula.


Align Impact Indicators for TOC models

Aligning Social Indicators with SDGs & Targets in TOC Software

Demonstrate impact in a consistent way

Impact Scorecard Aligned Towards Stakeholder Reporting

Effective impact reporting requires an alignment between the funders and investees/grantees.  It is important to agree on the following key elements which allow funders to understand impact results which align with their own internal reporting.

There are are many key reporting elements to consider:

Impact Thesis using SOPact TOC Solution

Theory Of Change Template

Designed for reuse

Public & Collaborative

Impact Cloud provides many innovative ways to share the same language of measurement through shareable theory of change templates.  Just search through the global theory of change catalog which not only includes example theories of change but also impact indicators.

Potential reuse  in the platform are:

  • Publicly available sector specific metrics set
  • Shared examples by SoPact team
  • Shared examples by SoPact partners
  • Shared examples by customers

Theory of Change Driven Impact Measurement & Management

Build a powerful theory of change based on wizard driven process with a complete strategy. 

Benefits of Impact Cloud Free Impact Strategy Application are:

  1. Public Impact Knowledge
  2. Impact Themes
  3. Impact Surveys
  4. Theory Of Change
  5. Impact Metrics
  6. SDG Alignment
  7. Alignment with standards
  8. Qualitative and Quantitative Impact Metrics
  9. Language
  10. Data Strategy
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