C4D: Decide purpose

What is it?

The purpose of the R,M&E, and the key driving questions is one of the three key components that should determine the M&E methods and processes that are used. The other key issues are determining and securing resources and understanding the nature of the initiative (for which it may be useful to read about developing program theory or logic model with complexity). This discussion about uses is also associated with the task of identifying primary intended users.  It is important to be specific about purposes (i.e. more than grand statements about 'learning and accountability'). It is also important to understand potential conflicting purposes.

Diagram of methods and processes

General information

The Rainbow Framework includes detailed information on deciding purpose, including more information about common purposes, and resources on, for example, potential conflicts between learning and accountability. This page is recommended background reading before considering methods to apply to C4D. 

Applying the C4D principles


The approach advocated by the C4D Evaluation Framework is to use R,M&E processes for adaptive and learning based process, so that findings can be fed into ongoing C4D activities. This is because most C4D activities are complicated or complex (to understand the nature of your activity see Complexity). 


R,M&E can be useful for accountability purposes, because it can be used to report back to all people and groups connected to the C4D initiative (including donors, managers, partners, community groups, ‘beneficiaries’ and others).


The evaluation’s purpose might need to change to support emerging findings and learning. How programs are implemented may change as a result. The primary intended users and their needs should be reviewed and revised to accommodate change.

Recommended methods and adaptations for C4D

  • Here are some ideas about common intended uses. It can be useful to think about this in conjunction with Identifying primary intended users.

    Primary intended uses Primary intended users
    Incremental adjustments and improvements? Program managers?
    Revisions during annual planning or end-of-cycle changes? UNICEF (or similar agency) staff?
    Accountability? (consider to whom - eg funders, local community, peers) Implementing partners? Local community? Civil society?
    Contributing to evidence base about what works for whom in what context and how? Government partners – central agencies? Line agencies?
    Informing subsequent investment decisions Joint funders and donors?
    Advocacy on behalf of the community? Civil society?


'C4D: Decide purpose' is referenced in: