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Using evaluation planning tools

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Use this page to learn about the different planning tools you can use to help you find out what difference you want to make.

Planning tools help you communicate the difference you want to make.

Once you understand the issue you want to focus on, a planning tool can help you plan new work to address it. Planning tools can also help you to:

  • communicate the purpose of what you do and why to funders and donors
  • decide what information to collect to evaluate your programmes and services
  • improve your existing interventions.

Two common planning models are the theory of change and the evaluation planning triangle. Both tools will help you communicate your work clearly

Theory of change

A theory of change is a description of how and why a particular activity leads to a particular change.

It shows how we expect change to happen in the short, medium and long term to achieve the end goal for the people and communities we work with.

It’s a flexible methodology. It can be developed at the beginning of a piece of work (to help you plan) or to describe an existing piece of work (to evaluate it).

While it’s particularly helpful if you’re planning or evaluating a complex initiative – it can also be used for more straightforward projects.

Once developed, your theory can be represented in a visual diagram or as a narrative – but the thinking involved in the development process is often as important as what you produce at the end.

Find out more in our guidance on theory of change.

The evaluation planning triangle

This tool is a basic form of a theory of change.

It sets out a series of simple, logical connections that help you and others understand how you plan to make a difference through your work.

The triangle is best suited to organisations that want to plan and evaluate single projects or areas of work, or for organisations with less experience in impact planning.

A planning triangle diagram about the organisation called Mental Health Network

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 18 September 2023

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