How we support change agents to achieve results for development

At Results for Development, we believe achieving large-scale, lasting, equitable outcomes in health, education and nutrition, will only be realized by putting change agents — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — at the center of our approach.

The change agents we work with have told us they want to drive their own agenda and design their own solutions, while receiving targeted expert support. They want partners who will support them to address immediate challenges today and strengthen institutional capacities and processes to address tomorrow’s challenges. Our approach is in direct response to this.

Our approach

Achieving large-scale, lasting results is not easy. The systems required to produce these outcomes are complex and always changing. Sustainability is difficult.

Working with our partners over the last decade, we’ve learned a lot about how to achieve these kinds of results. The graphic below illustrates key aspects of our theory of change. We design all programs – no matter how big or small — with this model in mind.

R4D Theory of change

We support country-led change in two ways

  1. We provide direct support to country stakeholders as they navigate complex systems- change, and
  2. We strengthen the ecosystem that provides critical evidence, expertise and innovations to country leaders.

Supporting country-led change


We support country leaders to design and facilitate effective country-led change processes that address their priorities.

We work with change agents to diagnose the root causes of the challenges they prioritize. In partnership, we conduct system analyses and generate tailored evidence to understand the problem. They co-create solutions built on evidence and diverse stakeholder input. Then they implement solutions — and learn what is and isn’t working to continuously adapt, iterate, improve, and capture knowledge for the future.

This approach ensures that country leaders are consistently in the driver’s seat, determining their own timelines according to domestic processes. The solutions have buy-in, and they are operationally feasible. And because the solutions are institutionalized, they can be sustained. The focus on interrelated and underlying challenges avoids unintended consequences and increases the potential for positive spillover effects for other challenges.

Although this process begins with an entry point and focuses on solving immediate challenges, it also strengthens the whole system — which delivers results for everyone across a population, especially the most vulnerable.

Strengthening the ecosystem


As country leaders navigate systems change, they have told us they want access to expertise, evidence and innovations. A supportive ecosystem — made up of individual experts, institutions and networks from within their country or region, and from around the globe — can provide this.

We engage deeply with ecosystem actors, helping enhance or complement their capacities and connecting them with each other to catalyze learning and transfer of knowledge and ideas around the world.

We explicitly build alliances and collaboration across the ecosystem to support the country-led change process described above. This has a dual purpose. It ensures country leaders have the inputs they’ve requested, such as evidence and technical support from experts deeply familiar with their local context. And it ensures that ecosystem actors gain critical experience and cumulatively build knowledge that equips them to provide ongoing support well beyond a single project.

Our Expertise

We are skilled facilitators in processes described above, but we also understand the importance of bringing deep technical subject matter — and contextually relevant — expertise to all of our engagements

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