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Causal Pathways

Making visible the "black box" of philanthropic and systems change strategies, helping us collectively see how systems are (or are not) changing

Who we are

Causal Pathways seeks to help philanthropy and other funders open-up the black box of strategy and systems change by building awareness, will, and skills to use evaluation approaches that can make sense of causal relationships without depending on more traditional experimental and quasi-experimental approaches.

The network and actions

An international network of evaluation practitioners from various universities, NGOs, and independent consulting firms are leading the Causal Pathways work through intentional collaboration and thought partnership. Since 2021, this growing network of practitioners has engaged in efforts to make visible causal pathways in complex, systemic work.

The members in the emerging Causal Pathways network are engaged in five different shared actions, which are initial experiments to see how we can collectively influence the philanthropic and funding environment and support the field of evaluation to begin to deploy these approaches. Through the actions below, the network hopes to see increased awareness and understanding, along with creating ways for people to access practical information on how to use causal analysis to understand the impact of their evaluations.  


The actions include:

Resource hub

Developing a resource hub

Power and participation

Clarifying how power and participation are central to causal pathways


Planning a symposium

Building will

Engaging funders/ influencers to build will

Social media

Using social media to build visibility (#causalpathways, #reclaimingcausal)

More actions will be identified in the coming months as new people opt into the work, the network engages in shared sensemaking about what we're learning and seeing, and the resources to support participants to take action increase.

Highlighted resources

Want to learn more? The network developed a short document that shares key concepts and definitions. 

The Lost Causal article also helps to debunk a set of myths that have prevented the exploration of causal pathways from becoming part of our systems change work in philanthropy.

Causal Pathways Shared Understanding VISUAL.webp
Lost Causal Image.webp
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