The "theory of change" concept draws on the practices of scientific discovery. Social systems, however, are relatively resistant to scientific analysis. As philanthropy attempts to affect dynamic, human-influenced systems, I wonder if we might need to give up the search for the perfect theory of change and instead embrace what might be called Capital Market Philanthropy by focusing our philanthropic efforts on building great organizations.
This is quite interesting. A lot of funding dollars in the social sector is around the "theory of change" which is the idea that for a program (like Family by Family); a specific theory of change occurs for individuals through the program. This is quite an important aspect to evaluate programs and provide funding.
The question is whether that is enough?
What Stannard-Stockton asks here is due to the dynamic nature of social change it cannot be compared to a scientific study with specific questions, hypothesis and answers. The dynamic nature means that what works now will not work tomorrow and needs to be adapted. So, do we support a specific program or the organisation that has created this program and will adapt it to the future.
For Philanthropy I think this is a great question, especially for successful businessman who understand what it takes to build a business. Can Philanthropy help in supporting an organisation to create change?