What is a Theory of Change?
A Theory of Change (ToC) is an approach used by an organization to be thoughtful and transparent in the way it hopes to affect change on the complex issues it is targeting. It is designed to identify the drivers, conditions, and assumptions inherent within desired outcomes and the actions needed to achieve them. It is also meant to be inclusive of the partners that will help with the work that needs doing. We make our Nearshore Marine Conservation theory of change (‘marine ToC’) public so we can be transparent not only with what the Foundation gives toward, but why.
We use our marine ToC in three ways. Firstly, it is a guide, which articulates the value system and overarching philosophy that informs our nearshore marine conservation giving. Secondly, as a strategic plan, it lays out our giving strategies, and the ways in which we intend on achieving them. Lastly, it is a procedural evaluation tool, directly applied for proposal evaluation and grant-making decisions by Foundation staff.
Updated with partner and Foundation Board of Director input in the latter portion of 2016, this is the third version of the Foundation’s marine ToC since 2001. For the complete version of our theory of change, please see the complete version under What We Fund>Nearshore Marine Resource Conservation along the top tab of our website. If you have any questions or thoughts about this revised Theory of Change, please contact the Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for Marine Conservation, Eric Co, at firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s new in this version?
The values and assumptions upon which our theory of change is based remain the same. We still believe in a comprehensive, inclusive community-driven process that includes government, scientists, fishers, and ocean users of all kinds. We remain guided both by traditional Hawaiian practices and Western concepts of resource management. We will continue to keep a long view as a permanently endowed institution that strives for long-term biological outcomes built upon short-term social outcomes.
But if you have applied for a marine grant with us in the past 4 years or so, you will see that the most significant change in this third iteration of our Theory of Change is that we have moved away from the seven investment areas meant to serve as programmatic foci. Instead we have shifted to five specific tactics to improve marine resource health and management. These represent shared, more proactive priorities with several partners, intended to help Hawaii achieve marine management targets over the next 1-5 years that move our islands towards two results: 1) a substantial increase in the number and percentage of nearshore marine acres in the Main Hawaiian Islands that are effectively managed based on more collaborative science, better management and improved enforcement; and 2) a similarly substantial increase in Hawaii’s capacity for ocean management.
Gone, too, is the large set of performance measures requested of projects. Instead these tactics will be measured by two new performance measures, both of which are anticipated to take up to a year to develop with several partners. Consequently, it is no longer necessary to articulate project ‘fit’ within investment areas. And applicants are no longer required to devise and submit performance measures as they relate to their project scope during the proposal process.
Below is a diagram showing the relationship between the Foundation’s marine resource vision, goals, strategies, partners, the five tactics, and the two performance measures by which these will be assessed.
For more detail please see the complete version of our theory of change.
What does this mean for me as a Foundation partner?
Informed by our updated theory of change model and the assumptions governing it, our process for awarding grants via the marine conservation giving priority will likewise be updated. The two-step, online process of submitting a letter of inquiry (LOI) or pre-proposal through our website and subsequently submitting a full proposal upon invitation, will remain the same. However there will be some new elements introduced into this process.
It is no longer necessary to articulate project ‘fit’ within investment areas. Moreover, applicants are no longer required to devise and submit performance measures as they relate to their project scope. Instead, project fit will be evaluated by staff against these five tactics and two performance measures. In short, you should find our proposal prices to be far simpler.
The decision to invite applicants back for a full proposal will primarily rest with the marine conservation program officer, with guidance and support from the rest of the Foundation’s staff.
Lastly, there has been unprecedented ‘astral alignment’ of goals and objectives in the marine management space. With the advent of the Aloha + Challenge, the Worldwide Voyage, the Promise to the PaeʻĀina, the hosting of the IUCN World Conservation Congress, and Governor Ige’s recent launch of his administration’s comprehensive environmental platform, organizations and institutions are more focused than ever on shared goals to overcome large-scale obstacles through collaborative action. We are excited that the Aloha+ Challenge Sustainability Dashboard, hosted by the State, now serves as a shared platform for measurement and evaluation across environmental sectors, including now, for the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. Consequently, the Foundation’s own dashboard will no longer be used. We encourage you to use the State’s dashboard to track not only our collective progress in our oceans, but toward our general sustainability.