Vision for Change

October 29, 2014

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Our vision for change framework is a graphic representation of the way in which key actors, operating principles, and external conditions interact in the service of our mission: creating secure, productive and just communities. The vision for change represents a process, informed by 35 years of work in the field, that allows for sustainable change to occur.

The vision for change framework provides answers to some essential questions.


At the center of the framework lies the goal, our core mission. Why does Mercy Corps exist? To help create more secure, productive, and just communities.


Surrounding the goal are the principles by which we operate. How do we pursue our mission? Through the principles of Accountability, Participation and Peaceful Change, as adapted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We believe these principles form the basis for healthy interactions between all stakeholders in the development process. Without them, change is unlikely to lead to secure, productive and just communities.


Beyond the operating principles are the actors who uphold them. Their involvement is critical to pursuing our mission. These actors are: the Private Sector/business, the Public Sector/government and Civil Society/voluntary civic organizations.

Individuals, institutions and organizations within these three sectors need to be strong, accountable and participatory. Beyond that, they need to be able to interact effectively with one another and with their constituents. Mercy Corps often seeks to build the capacity of one or more of these sectors, at the same time strengthening their capacity to work with each other.

Even with those questions answered, our experience has shown that sustainable development is difficult, if not impossible, if key external conditions are not in place. These conditions appear on the outside ring of the diagram. Our programs aim to strengthen one or more of these key conditions, while at the same time reaching out to form partnerships with agencies working to strengthen other external conditions.

Using the Framework

We use the framework in many ways in our daily work. It helps us design the most effective interventions in any particular situation and ensures that we understand the complexity of the relationships where we are working. We use it with communities, local organizations, new staff and colleagues to explain our theory of change.

Finally, we aim to use it to help us measure the success of our programs, not only in terms of how many people we have helped, but also by marking progress toward a more enduring contribution: catalyzing self-empowerment in our local partners.

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