Themes

While the Rainbow Framework can be applied to all kinds of evaluations, there are particular issues in evaluating different types of interventions and in doing different types of evaluations.

Thematic pages bring together resources that relate to a particular theme, including examples, guides and specialist communities of practice.

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Types of evaluation

Before implementation

  • Needs assessment, also called needs analysis or situation analysis — a needs assessment or needs analysis identifies and prioritises the needs that a project, program or policy will seek to meet.  A situation analysis also identifies existing resources and opportunities that can be utilised

  • Evaluability assessment —​ An assessment of the extent to which an intervention can be evaluated in a reliable and credible fashion

  • Evidence synthesis — this combines evidence from previous research and evaluation to inform the design of a new intervention

During implementation

  • Monitoring — ongoing or routine collection and use of data about an intervention for internal management and accountability reporting

  • Process evaluation — evaluating or documenting the activities undertaken.  There are different types of process evaluation, including checking that implementation meets standards (fidelity evaluation), cycles of quality improvement, or documenting innovations

After implementation

Although these types of evaluation can’t be completed until there is evidence about the results from an intervention, planning for them needs to begin well before the intervention ends. 

  • Impact evaluationalso outcome evaluation — evaluating the effects of an intervention, either in terms of medium-term results (outcomes) or longer-term results (impacts), including intended and unintended, positive and negative, direct and indirect results.

  • Value for money evaluation — evaluating the overall value of the intervention taking into account the costs incurred.  This can be done in various ways including cost-benefit analysis, cost-utility analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and social return on investment.

  • Sustained and emerging impact evaluation (SEIE) — evaluates the enduring results of an intervention some time after it has ended, or after a long period of implementation

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Cross-cutting themes

  • Complexity — Complexity ideas and methods have important applications for how we think about programs and policies, how we collect and analyse data, and how we report findings and support their use

  • Evaluation and children — Evaluating the impacts of programmes and policies on children presents particular challenges.  Many of these are complex and inter-sectoral, the impacts are often long-term, and children have particular vulnerabilities to harm

  • Evaluation practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander settings — This set of theme pages aims to share and support evaluation practices that respect the rights of, and function for the benefit of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Feminist evaluation — Feminist evaluation (FE) emphasises participatory, empowering, and social justice agendas. Unlike most gender approaches, feminist evaluation does not provide a framework or advocate a precise approach; feminist evaluation is instead often defined as a way of thinking about evaluation

  • Gender analysis — Whether you are an evaluator or someone commissioning evaluation, any intervention to be evaluated that takes place within human society and involves human interactions will have gendered dimensions. And that means that you as an evaluator should be able to identify and analyse those gendered dimensions

  • Network evaluation — A network evaluation may consider a range of questions and adopt a variety of options for undertaking the evaluation depending on factors such as the type, size, stage of development and purpose of the network

  • Using technologies for evaluation in insecure settings — Operating in insecure environments is one of the more critical tests for humanitarian, development, and  peace-building organisations alike. Access constraints or even direct attacks make monitoring and evaluation extremely challenging. Technologies like mobile phones, radios, Internet platforms and GPS trackers promise new solutions for collecting vital data or tracking implementation of projects

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Sector

  • Agriculture — Any single agricultural project or program is necessarily part of a highly complex, interrelated system. To deliver utility and value, evaluation in the agricultural sector must take into account contextually sensitive issues. This means that in addition to the adoption of the more generic evaluation approaches, evaluation also requires the adaptation and development of more closely-tailored options and tools to meet the peculiar needs of this sector

  • Humanitarian action — Different types of evaluation are used in humanitarian action for different purposes, including rapid internal reviews to improve implementation in real time and discrete external evaluations intended to draw out lessons learned with the broader aim of improving policy and practice, and enhancing accountability

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Types of intervention

  • Capacity development — Unlike programs supporting health, livelihoods, and other impact areas, capacity development does not have stand-alone outcomes. Instead, capacity development supports a diverse set of goals in different sectors, at different levels, through different activities. Capacity development consequently presents multiple evaluation opportunities and challenges for practitioners

  • Impact investing — Impact investment aims to create positive social change alongside financial returns, thereby creating blended value. Assessing the intended and actual blended value created is an important part of impact investing

  • Organisational performance — An organisational assessment is a systematic process for obtaining valid information about the performance of an organisation and the factors that affect performance.  It differs from other types of evaluations because the assessment focuses on the organisation as the primary unit of analysis

  • Policy influence and advocacy — Influencing and informing policy is the main aim for many development organisations. However, activities directed at policy change are, in general, very hard to evaluate. As policy change is often a complex process, it is difficult to isolate the impact of a particular intervention from the influence of other factors and various actors. In addition, evaluation tools usually used in managing interventions can be difficult to implement in these contexts

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