Accelerator Fund – 1 year: How does the Theory of Change apply to the projects?

Applying the Theory of Change to selected projects

Regarding alliances, we were very consistent with the Theory of Change, and selected mainly projects that presented a solid alliance between developers, CSOs and/or government, according to table below.

App developers

Civil Society Organizations

Platform supported

by the Fund

Aware Rede Nossa São Paulo Plataform for managing indicators (IOTA)
La Factura Lima Como Vamos Datea
Wingu Associación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ) Integrated city platform
D.A.T.A. Intendencia de Montevideo y      Defensoría del Vecino For my neighborhood

During selection process, we had to eliminate dozens of proposal, even with powerful and relevant ideas, that did not present one or more of the three factors: technical capacity to develop applications, a solid theory of change and alliances already formed.

About technical capacity, one of our greatest beliefs is that hiring technology service providers (software house) to develop civic apps is not sustainable and tends to fail by lack of autonomy and technical competence of the OSC in the maintenance and evolution of the application after the contract is over. We believe in a model where the software developer is committed to the cause and intends to invest on the long term in this relationship and the tool!

Besides selecting projects that brought alliances as an integral part of their proposals, again based in our theory of change, we have also adopted a series of common indicators in all projects focusing on citizen empowerment and promotion of campaigns aiming to foster social change. They are:

1)      User capacity-building courses;

2)      Alliances with Civil Society Organizations

3)      Alliances with governmental entities;

4)  Civic innovation campaigns/incidence on public policies with the potential to affect the life of thousands of citizens.

We also negotiated as common deliverables to all projects the following plans and an important part of our follow-up to the projects will be supporting their implementation:

1)      Alliances development;

2)      Users scalability;

3)      Financial sustainability (including fundraising funds for post-grant platform maintenance);

4)      Replicability (including documentation and tutorials for developers).

Worth commenting that two grantees (Aware with IOTA and La Factura with Datea) received resources to scale and develop new features of platforms that were developed prior to the Fund and two others are implementing and adapting apps that already exists for a while (Codeando Mexico with CKAN and D.A.T.A. with Fix My Street). We believe that supporting existing applications is consistent with the intention to accelerate social change by using digital technologies.

Next posts

This is the third of a series of four posts about the Fund first year of activities as detailed below:

1) What is the Fund and its Theory of Change?
2) What are its projects and their objectives?
3) How does the Theory of Change apply to the projects?
4) What have we learned and what is coming in 2014?

Next week we will start a new series with one post about each project supported, being the next one the Platform for Managing Indicators (IOTA) that concluded recently its first semester of activities. In each of these posts, we will explore details of the projects: theory of change, indicators, advances, learnings and challenges facing the development of their applications and formation and implementation of their alliances, among others.

We are convinced that the Accelerator Fund is only a first step we are submitting  to test some hypothesis and a theory of change that can be effective in the process of designing and accelerating high-scale social change using web and mobile technology and promoting citizen behavior change.

We are learning every day, we hope to share and keep learning from fund´s grantees, and the larger community interested in the use of technology with civic purposes.

Comments, critics and suggestions are very welcome!


Márcio Vasconcelos – Coordinador General Fondo Acelerador

Lucía Abelenda – Coordinadora Ejecutiva Fondo Acelerador