System Dynamics Modeling

Resource Type

Narrative Reporting

These resources analyze large amounts of data to describe all the elements in the system.

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.

Assess impact and learn

Resources in this category can help you assess impact and learn. Since learning is often an iterative and emergent process in systems grantmaking, these resources may overlap with other grantmaking stages.


Not participatory


An expert with specialized knowledge or technology


1-5 months

What is it?

A narrative reporting resource that requires advanced technology. First, one creates a detailed systems map (see Systems Mapping); a causal loop map without a stock and flow diagram would not be adequate. An expert may then turn the systems map into a mathematical model and create computer simulations of the system. The simulation can be used to identify those variables that most influence the entire system as well as subsystems.

The simulation can also test possible system interventions. System Dynamics Modeling is helpful for influencing a system at a macro, global or multinational level. For more information, see the Systems Dynamics Society and the New England Complex Systems Institute. Forio is one potential option for online modeling.