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  • Writer's pictureCharity Chat Podcast

E189 - Theory of Change with James Noble

“…it’s a way for organisations to describe the social purpose for what they are trying to achieve, or the ways in which they want to do good in the world.”

- James Noble speaking about the Theory of Change

In this episode we speak with James Noble, Associate Director of Data and learning at NPC.

James and I recorded this back in mid-March, marking the second anniversary of the first UK Covid pandemic lockdown. It seemed fitting as in this episode we speak about Theory of Change and what this means to charities seeking to perhaps deal with the disruption and increased need triggered or exacerbated by the pandemic and other world events.

1. Theory of Change

James spoke about the ten-step guide to a Theory of Change, based on something that he originally scribed over fifteen years ago and that it is the most downloaded resource on the NPC website -

The frequency for those thinking about running a Theory of Change will depend on the size and mission of their charity – every five years might be right for those charities whose work is not changing very much, but perhaps a charity who is involved in campaigning may need to look at their Theory of Change very often because the context of their work might be constantly changing.

2. The reason for a Theory of Change

Introspection, awareness and thoughtfulness, are virtues that seem to be at the heart of good organisational decision making. For charities, being clear about the change that they want to see in the world and then how they are seeking to achieve that change demonstrate a clarity in thinking that can only help to galvanise people both internally and externally. Whether that’s staff, volunteer, funders or even government.

James made the point that every charity needs to think about how to use their limited resources and the Theory of Change sets out to help charities make better decisions and better use of their precious resources to fulfil their mission.

3. Benefits of a Theory of Change

For charities stepping back and looking at the world around them, the opportunities, challenges and how to face them, a Theory of Change might be the equivalent of checking the map to see that your organisation is on the right track.

Team building is a potential benefit – galvanising your weary colleagues, reminding them and maybe yourself why the hard slog is necessary and worthwhile. This process could potentially reduce the work stress on your colleagues if it leads to a clearer, more efficient way of working. And maybe, this process could help to later engage funders and other key stakeholders to make life easier but also to make the impact your organisation is seeking.

This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good. Work for Good believes everyone should be able to turn the work they do into good. Through their fundraising platform, they offer charities a way to engage and work with small businesses, including founders, owners and sole traders who want to make an impact for charities through their sales. To find out more, please visit

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E166 - Social Issues And Charities With Dan Corry

E182 - Challenging The Status Quo To Achieve Change Wth Tom Vozzo

E181 - The Levelling up agenda with Leah Davis


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