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Community Contribution

Using Developmental Evaluation to Reboot Theories of Change

Rebecca Herrington

In September 2017, the Digital Finance (DFS) team joined others in the U.S. Global Development Lab to participate in a Developmental Evaluation (DE), a CLA approach. The Uptake DE was focused on understanding the Lab’s most effective approaches to sustained uptake and learning from different models. One of the evaluative efforts under this learning objective included outcome harvesting of the team’s ecosystem initiatives to better understand which models were leading to what outcomes. Recommendations from this effort suggested teams needed to strengthen their theories of change to better understand pathways to ecosystem-level change, to track progress, and to determine ‘tipping points’ where the ownership and resource supply shifts away from USAID for long-term sustainability. The DFS team was all in! The team worked to reboot and expand their theory of change, as well as identify tipping points to track towards for ongoing ecosystems initiatives. This reboot led a more cohesive team strategy that has enabled them to better explain to existing and potential partners their potential role and opportunities for investment. The reboot is also supporting more strategic and data-driven programming, budgeting, and strategic decision-making, contributing to the development of sustainable exit strategies for their work, and the benefits are continuing to develop over time. Overall, the DFS team’s theory of change reboot is a shining example of what is possible through CLA and data-driven adaptations.

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