The Community Builder's Approach to Theory of Change


Anderson, A.A. (2006). The Community Builder's Approach to Theory of Change. A practical guide to theory development. New York: The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change.

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Research & Methodologies


theory of change


The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change developed an approach to help community builders create the most robust theories of change possible. This guide is designed for planners and evaluators who are going to facilitate a process for creating a theory of change with community-based programs and community change initiatives.

Section One answers the question “What is a theory of change?”. It provides all the information needed to facilitate a theory of change process with a community group. This section

  • reviews the major concepts that define theories of change;
  • provides important background information for facilitators before they enter a planning session; and
  • offers practical guidance for facilitating planning sessions.

Section Two is a resource toolbox for the theory of change facilitator. It includes

  • a case study to show a portion of a finished theory of change;
  • a list of materials to bring to a planning session;
  • a participants list that suggests the ideal composition of a theory of change building team for a community-based program or initiative;
  • a glossary that could be distributed at the training sessions; and
  • a description of PowerPoint presentations that you can download from the web site,