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  • National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Why Do We Do What We Do? Theory of Change

When we are faced with the question “Why do you do what you do? What is it you expect to accomplish?” people are looking for our theory of change. A theory of change reflects

What we hope to accomplish with our work

How and why we expect the desired change to occur, and

How we will get there

If you work with survivors of domestic violence, you might find this theory of change useful in explaining how your work leads to positive changes in the lives of survivors and their families. It was created in 2013 by Cris Sullivan, in collaboration with numerous experts from around the country (including survivors, advocates, researchers, funders, and representatives from national resource centers). It can also guide your program evaluation efforts, helping you choose outcomes that fit the model and explain to others why these outcomes are important.

A detailed explanation of the theory of change can be found in this conceptual framework. Conceptual frameworks are “road maps” designed to connect how we think about a problem with how we address that problem and what we hope to accomplish through our actions. The Social and Emotional Well-Being Promotion Framework captures the goal of helping survivors and their children thrive, and it recognizes the importance of community, social, and societal context in our work.