Stock and Flow Diagrams

Resource Type

Visual Mapping

These resources result in a visual representation of systems, each through a particular lens (e.g., social relationships, political power, issues and concepts).

Systems Questions


What are the events, activities, actions, behaviors, and forces that affect the system, and how can we influence them?

Patterns and Structure

What are the patterns of behavior, structures, and archetypes in the system, and how can we influence them?

Grantmaking Stages

Develop grantmaking strategy

Resources in this category can help you understand the system, identify outcomes and determine grantmaking interventions.


Flexible from no/some participation to highly participatory


Someone who has been trained on the resource and/or An expert with specialized knowledge or technology


Less than 1 month

What is it?

A visual mapping technique that shows how stock (e.g., amount of fish) increases or decreases over time as a result of specific flows (e.g., rate of regeneration of fish). While easily confused with Causal Loop Mapping and Cognitive Mapping, Stock and Flow Diagrams are different in that they are more precise about how much variables relate to each over time. These diagrams are helpful in the context of a specific issue or field (e.g., fishery conservation). They can be used independently, as part of a Systems Mapping process or for System Dynamics Modeling. For more information on Stock and Flow Diagrams, please see Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows.