TOC builder

Kathryn Dingle

Image of a men drawing on a flipchart whilst others watch

The challenge

Helping organisations develop their theory of change is one of NPC’s core consultancy services. But consultants can only help a fraction of the sector this way – some theory of change projects are too small to make it worth hiring a consultant and some organisations can’t afford any support at all. This currently results in many organisations investing in ill-defined programmes of activity without a clear pathway to creating impact or measuring it.

The opportunity

What if there was a digital platform for developing a simple theory of change, which steps you through the process with integrated training and guidance?

In phase 1 this might include:

Guided process: This should be a fairly simple linear process, but with some recursion loops. It needs to be an engaging interactive walkthrough of the process, blending TOC exercises (which might be done offline) with user input of descriptions and decisions. It needs to save progress.

In the future this might include:

A TOC analyser based on a TOC data archive (harvested through free use of builder) enables cross-sector learning by:

  • Identifying similar orgs/programmes based on outcomes
  • Identifying where similar approaches have been used/tested
  • Identifying commonly used approaches for an outcome objective
  • Identifying evidence base for a particular approach (adapt UCL behaviour change ontology + import categorised evidence.
  • Aggregate/overview of sector information
  • Online chat / phone consultation / review service (micro-consultancy)
  • Peer review function
  • Measurement framework development as a second CYOA module
    • Shared measurement/data benchmarking platform
    • Connection to ethical analytics too
  • Portfolio views
    • Compare multiple TOCs for programmes in your org 
    • Compare orgs you fund (for funders / philanthropists)
  • Find duplication / crossover
  • Make union picture of outcomes

Prototype work in progress

Have a look at this prototype sketch and add comments! (If you click through the link you can see it better and comment)

Comments 2

  1. We ( would with a lot of small (and large) orgs and the question of measuring impact always comes up. Many don’t have a TOC to inform their impact measurement. A tool like this would make it easy for orgs to create a simple TOC!

    1. Post

      Hi Debby, That is really interesting to hear. There are a few tools out there already (listed below), which we have been sharing learning with.

      We are still exploring this area, but found some interesting insights which have shifted our thinking at the moment. When speaking to organisations from across the sector, we found a lot of people saw value in the theory of change process, but found the products of it hard to use beyond its creation. We are now exploring how we can better connect a theory of change to individuals day-to-day work and internal learning processes. We are testing an initial prototype this week actually! With the hope of rolling out something, once the concept is validated. If you are interested in finding out more do get in touch on

      Here are some examples of existing software below:
      TOCO 2.0
      Impact Cloud –
      Google Drawings –
      MindMup –
      Coggle –
      Theory Maker –

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