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SpunOut.ie's Theory of Change

Blog Posts Sep­tem­ber 12th2018

Context - Our solution to the problem we're addressing

In 2015, SpunOut.ie celebrated its 10th year providing a service to young people in Ireland. It also marked a period of change for the organisation.

In 2014, due to funding cuts and instability, the organisation decided to focus all its energy on providing young people with information. It was the only project being funded at the time and we felt it was important to do one thing really well, rather than diluting our impact across multiple different projects.

The founder had moved on from the organisation in 2011 and in 2014 the founding board retired and were replaced with new directors. A number of key staff departed the organisation for pastures new around the same time.

Need for clear mission

For a small organisation, all of the above change has the potential to divert the mission off course or to change the culture, the ethos, or the spirit of the community behind SpunOut.ie.

Therefore it was really important for us to describe - unambiguously - the problem that it is the organisation is seeking to address and to clearly articulate SpunOut.ie’s proposed solution to that problem.

Process

Inspired by Roca’s excellent model of intervention (another term for Theory of Change), in 2016 we set out on our own journey to define the theory behind the change we believe we are making.

We did this in part to lay the foundation for a new strategic plan, but also to better measure, understand and communicate the impact of our work to our community, partners, funders and the public. Making a better case for support is the only way we’ll secure sustainable, multi-annual funding to be able to respond to the needs of our young readers.

Once we had finalised the Theory of Change, we then devised a Measurement Framework (the second piece of this jigsaw) and used both the Theory of Change and the Measurement Framework to create our first impact report (2017).

Check out our Theory of Change and Measurement Framework below, and let us know what you think! (ian@spunout.ie)

(You can also read this blog post from Sandra, the consultant who helped us develop this Theory of Change).

Spun Out.ie-Theory-of-Change-WEB

Spun Out.ie-Measurement-Framework-WEB

What our work contributes to: young people leading happier and healthier lives

  • A destigmatisation of help-seeking by young people
  • Young people coming to less harm
  • Older people becoming more aware of young people’s issues
  • Improved physical and mental health amongst young people
  • Young people participating to a greater extent in their communities and society
  • Ireland changing into a more accepting place for young people

Barriers and risks

We recognise that there may be obstacles that stand in the way of our theory of change. These are very wide-ranging and different for each individual. For example, young people may not recognise that they have a right to information or may seek information from untrustworthy sources. They may struggle with literacy or lack access to technology. They may not be sufficiently motivated or confident to act or they may not be in an environment that allows them to act.

Our assumptions

  • This age group, with its unique needs, will always exist
  • Young people have rights that must be respected
  • Young people are undervalued in our society and a lack of appropriate information is only one expression of this
  • If young people are not aware that they have unmet information needs or are not ready to seek information, there is little that SpunOut.ie can do to change this
  • Young people are ‘digital by default’ with the vast majority of them using online technologies on a daily basis
  • Some subjects are difficult to talk about
  • A multi-topic resource is more welcoming and less stigmatising for young people than a specialist resource
  • Having better information can, but does not necessarily, lead to better choices
  • SpunOut.ie can secure resources on an ongoing basis to assure its continued existence to help the young people of Ireland

How we know this

Policy framework

International research

Irish research

Our own knowledge