The process by which a charity or intervention creates change for animals can be complicated and difficult to understand. To communicate our understanding about how change occurs, we use theory of change diagrams. It is important to note that these diagrams are not necessarily complete representations of real-world mechanisms of change. Rather, they are simplified models that ACE uses to represent our beliefs about mechanisms of change. For the sake of simplicity, some diagrams may not include relatively small or uncertain effects.
When we evaluate a charity, we consider the extent to which their work contributes to the following outcomes:
- Decreased availability of animal products
- Decreased consumption of animal products
- Direct help
- Improvement of welfare standards
- Increased availability of animal-free products
- Increased engagement in animal advocacy
- Increased knowledge/skills for animal advocacy
- Increased prevalence of anti-speciesist values
The items on our menu of outcomes may overlap to some extent, and they are not all-encompassing. Many interventions may produce more than one type of outcome, and some may produce outcomes that aren’t captured by the categories on our menu. Nevertheless, we have found these categories useful for conceptualizing the primary avenues by which charities implement interventions to create change for animals.
Theory of Change Diagrams for Charities
Our charity reviews include theory of change diagrams to represent the avenues by which we believe each charity creates change for animals. Our theory of change diagrams for charities represent the effects of multiple interventions employed by a single charity. For the sake of simplicity, we do not include arrows to represent every possible effect of every intervention. Rather, we include arrows to represent what we consider to be the largest or most important effect(s) of each intervention.
Here is an example of a theory of change diagram for a charity: