October 29, 2012, 1:41 PM
Dear Global Council Members and Regional Coordinators,
Greetings of peace and love.
URI was founded in 2000 on a belief that the creation of interfaith Cooperation Circles – each one unique, all committed to honoring the PPP of URI’s Charter – would create the positive change expressed in URI’s Purpose. In 2012, we have twelve years of experience and 559 CCs in 83 countries testing that belief.
In the spirit of organizational learning and adaptation and to help guide and assess the success of URI’s growth in the future, we have studied those twelve years of experience to develop URI’s Theory of Change (TOC).
Developing a TOC was an important part of URI’s three-year strategic plan, an important step towards clarifying and evaluating how we are working to meet URI’s broad purpose and mission. This work was completed in July with support from a consulting firm that specializes in impact management and in consultation over seven months with many Global Council members, Regional Coordinators and CC members. An extensive CC survey was conducted earlier in the year and this information also informed the work.
A Theory of Change (TOC) states what expected result will follow from a particular set of actions. It is used as a tool for developing solutions to complex social problems. A basic TOC explains how a group of early and intermediate accomplishments sets the stage for producing long-range results and often includes the ‘assumptions’ about why you think the selected actions will lead to the change you are trying to accomplish.
Essentially, Theory of Change is an outcomes-based approach to the design, implementation and evaluation of initiatives and programs intended to support the change articulated in URI’s PPPs. The attached “Map” summarizes what we have been observing in URI’s network and provides a framework for the strategies currently being used, including some of the smaller steps that must be taken to reach long-term outcomes (such as ending religiously motivated violence). Later this year, we will provide you with more detailed summaries of “Indicators”—the benchmarks that will help all of us evaluate how we are doing towards meeting our short and mid-term objectives.
Rather than a prescribed methodology, URI’s TOC is both flexible and adaptive and can be very effective when applied to pre-existing work being done in each URI region. It is a tool for developing and evaluating both regional action plans and URI’s global initiatives like the Young Leaders Program. We believe it can support each Regional Leadership Team’s critical thinking about your regional Work Plans and Budgets for 2013 and it will provide the foundation for building a culture of evaluation and reflection.
We will offer more discussion and training at the Global Council and Staff meetings in March and provide some time for Regional Leadership Teams to meet together to discuss TOC in context of their planned work for 2013 and beyond.
Until then, if you have any questions about TOC, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Yours in peace,
The Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs, Executive Director and Debra Bernstein, Associate Executive Director