C4D: Develop initial description

What is it?

It is important to be clear about the boundaries of what will be included in an evaluation.  As part of this, it can be helpful to develop an initial brief description of what will be evaluated, which can provide a starting point for discussions to find where there are different perspectives and gaps. 

General Information

The Rainbow Framework provides information on what methods and approaches are available for undertaking this task. If stakeholders are not known you might need to Understand and engage stakeholders. If decision making processes are not known you might need to Establish decision making processes. Consider these additional tasks and the general information pages before considering methods to apply to C4D.

Applying the C4D Evaluation Principles


Ensure all those who need to be included in this process are meaningfully involved. This task is a relatively quick and simple way to engage stakeholders in the R,M&E, and can be done even if a full participatory approach is not being followed.


This process can be useful for defining the boundaries (geographical and timeframe) of the initiative and R,M&E. It is important to be realistic about what kinds of outcomes or impacts can be expected within certain timeframes.


This process should be seen as open to revision as the R,M&E proceeds and new learnings emerge that have implications for the focus of the M&E.

Recommended methods and adaptations for C4D

  • C4D is often not a standalone program, but rather is embedded in other programs. Developing an initial description is a good way to clarify whether the study or M&E Framework will focus on:

    • Specific C4D activities or projects
    • C4D components within programs
    • A program including C4D components
    • A number of C4D initiatives across different programs
    • A policy, a strategy, an organization, a network.
  • Intentional design

    Intentional design is part of the Outcome Mapping approach to M&E (see the first seven steps of the approach). It is recommended as one method that could be used to Develop a program theory or logic model. The first of the seven steps is to define the vision. This is then built on to develop a theory of change. Intentional Design is consistent with the C4D Evaluation Framework in the following ways:

    • Holistic: Outcome Mapping as a whole, and Intentional Design as one of the key steps, provides a way to think holistically and systemically about how an initiative intends to achieve results.
    • Realistic: the Intentional Design part of Outcome Mapping is unique in the way it uses the concept of 'boundaries' to map out extent that the program can realistically influence changes in people and groups by organising these into three the different 'spheres': spheres of control, spheres of influence, and spheres of concern.
    • Complex: the approach recognises multiple, non-linear events leading to change. Instead of focusing on impact it focuses on subtle changes that are within the initiative's sphere of influence.

    NB: Outcome Mapping is a comprehensive approach to M&E in its own right. You could just borrow the concept of Intentional Design, as part of the Theory of Change, or you may use Outcome Mapping as your M&E approach and follow those steps.

'C4D: Develop initial description' is referenced in: