Our Theory of Change

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Our theory of change shows that we support charities and social enterprises so that they can better serve people and communities – the ultimate test of whether our work has made a positive difference.


We are intervening to increase the resilience of social enterprises and charities. This happens directly through our own programmes of support and funding but even more important is our ability to collaborate with other organisations that have similar goals, so that the right kinds of social investment capital and blended finance work in alignment with the support that social purpose organisations need to develop their enterprise models.

Learning underpins everything that we do, shaping it as we go and leaving a legacy for others to collaborate in future. The range of our interventions may change in response to learning over time.

However we are clear that there are other elements outside of Access’s work which contribute to charities and social enterprises being more resilient, but they are not areas where we feel we can make a unique contribution. Hence there is a shift in understanding Access’ role as market champion – from Access as exemplar and embodying good practice to Access as actively collaborating with others and enacting network leadership.


How our theory of change has evolved

We built an initial theory of change in 2015, when Access was founded:

Our Theory of Change

Based on the lessons we have drawn from the first two years of our work, we have revisited a number of the assumptions embedded within this and sought to reflect our updated strategy within it.

The difference between the previous theory of change and the revised one is more evolution than revolution, reflecting two years of experience and a developing understanding of how Access can make a significant impact.


Our Model of Transformation

Working with our learning partner, the TI Group, we identified the following impact values, or indicators of transformation, that need to be present in everything we do. These have helped shape our approach to measurement as well as our measures of success themselves.

Access gathers stories from all parts of the value chain (authenticity) to involve others in the conversation about what works – or doesn’t – so that it can help peers and partners to align their work around good practices, changing the conversation and improving practices over time.

Access’s programmes have a tangible effect that is visible throughout the value chain in terms of the uptake of tools and approaches and flows of money. Appropriate support and products that meet the range of charity and social enterprise needs are created by Access and others so that social needs are more equally served.

As a result of all of the above, social sector organisations become more resilient and sustain or increase their social impact

Active learning takes place at every stage of the value chain. All organisations are more confident in their own impact and have the data to back this up. All organisations adjust their own practices in the light of learning.