Outrageous Generosity Blog
Jason Franklin PhD

Visualizing a theory of change for your giving - Amazing example from Ford

June 30th, 2014 by Jason Franklin PhD

My friend Jee Kim joined the Ford Foundation two years ago as a program officer with the charge to create a portfolio funding “transformative social change.”

But what is transformative social change? How do you fund it? How do you even define it?

As Jee says, “I started pulling frameworks and theories from sociologists, political scientists, historians and campaign strategists. I ran some of my ideas by colleagues and organizers and other people smarter than me. I found myself in my office surrounded by butcher paper filled with circles and arrows, trying to capture a multi-dimensional process on a two dimensional plane. And then I worked closely with our communications team to produce a shareable version of my theory of change.”

The result is this amazing animation (which Jee is quick to note doesn’t fully capture even his one initiative’s approach, let alone Ford’s overall strategy). His hope is to spark conversation – what resonates, what’s missing, what could be added?

For my part, after just finishing my PhD research looking at the role of philanthropy in policy change, I can’t help but want to see more about the power dynamics of funding as they intersect with social change. How do individual donors, foundations, nonprofit leaders, organizers, public officials and others interact? These three elements combine but not in a linear process, there is an ebb and flow, a struggle backwards and forwards even when all the elements needed for change are present. How can we include this an animation on how change happens? And where do the opponents come in- the competing narratives and organizing efforts that push back against or slow down or block a social movement?

But regardless of the things I’d add, I’m frankly also a bit in awe of this animation – one of the clearest visual articulations of a progressive theory of change I’ve ever seen (doesn’t hurt to have the Ford communications team resources behind creating this either!).

Thanks Jee for creating this…looking forward to the discussions that follow and seeing version 2.0 sometime down the line! :-)

 And to readers of this blog, what else would you add/change/refine for a 2.0 version?

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