Developing a Strategy for Social Change

Who needs a strategy for social change?

A strategy for social change is essential for nonprofit and for-profit social ventures of all sizes and missions, and lies at the core of many public policies. It is valuable for: 

What will you gain from this module?

This module will guide you step-by-step in developing a strategy to tackle a social problem that concerns you. 

You’ll learn to:

Along the way, you’ll learn from the insights of successful social entrepreneurs.

Through workbook exercises, you will develop a concrete plan to solve a social problem that concerns you. You can share the plan with beneficiaries, partners, funders, and others to generate support for your work.

The theory of change at the center of your strategy

The theory of change lies at the heart of a strategy to achieve social impact. It has three core elements:

1. Your activities. This is what you must do to cause the intermediate outcomes. 2. The intermediate outcomes. These are all the changes that must happen in order to achieve the ultimate outcome. They typically involve people’s behavior. 3. The ultimate outcome. This is the social change, or goal, you wish to achieve.

Watch this video to learn how a theory of change is critical to your success as a social entrepreneur or policymaker.

How to use this module

This module walks you through the entire process of developing a strategy for social change in three phases:

  1. Understanding the problem
  2. Building a theory of change
  3. Testing and iterating your theory of change

You’ll see each step of the social change process illustrated through an example centering around a diabetes prevention program. The downloadable workbook offers a guided activity to apply each step of the process to a social problem of your choosing.

You can navigate through the steps using the menu on the left side of the page. If you’ve already completed some of the steps, you can jump in wherever you are in the process. At the beginning of each step, an “on ramp” tells you what you need to know before proceeding. 

As you move forward, you may find it useful to return to an earlier step. That’s a common part of this process. You can revisit a step at any time to gather more information, or to review and refine your own strategy.