Framework Overview

The BetterEvaluation Rainbow Framework organises different evaluation options (methods and processes) in terms of different tasks in an evaluation, organised into seven clusters. (There are also approaches, which are a package of options).

The Rainbow Framework can help you plan an evaluation by prompting you to think about each of these tasks in turn, and to select a package of methods and strategies that cover all the tasks. 

You can find detailed information and resources about these options through the FIND OPTIONS button on the drop-down menu located above or the menu on the right hand side.

Click here to download various versions of the Rainbow Framework, including the Planning Tool which can help you to plan an evaluation by prompting you to think about a series of key questions.

The 7 clusters of evaluation tasks are set out below . For each cluster there is an annotated list of options you can download.

MANAGE an evaluation or evaluation system

Manage an evaluation (or a series of evaluations), including deciding who will conduct the evaluation and who will make decisions about it.

1. Understand and engage stakeholders: Who needs to be involved in the evaluation? How can they be identified and engaged?

2. Establish decision making processes: Who will have the authority to make what type of decisions about the evaluation? Who will provide advice or make recommendations about the evaluation? What processes will be used for making decisions?

3. Decide who will conduct the evaluation: Who will actually undertake the evaluation?

4. Determine and secure resources: What resources (time, money, and expertise) will be needed for the evaluation and how can they be obtained? Consider both internal (e.g. staff time) and external (e.g. previous participants’ time).

5. Define ethical and quality evaluation standards: What will be considered a high quality and ethical evaluation? How should ethical issues be addressed?

6. Document management processes and agreements: How will you document the evaluation’s management processes and agreements made?

7. Develop planning documents for the evaluation: What is the overall plan for the evaluation? Is there a larger evaluation framework across several related evaluations?

8. Review evaluation (do meta-evaluation): How will the evaluation itself be evaluated including the plan, process, and report?

9. Develop evaluation capacity: How can the ability of individuals, groups and organisations to conduct and use evaluations be strengthened?

Download an overview of tasks and options for Manage.

DEFINE what is to be evaluated

Develop a description (or access an existing version) of what is to be evaluated and how it is understood to work.

1. Develop initial description: What exactly is being evaluated?

2. Develop programme theory / logic model: How is the intervention understood to work (program theory, theory of change, logic model)?

3. Identify potential unintended results: What are possible unintended results (both positive and negative) that will be important to address in the evaluation?

Download an overview of tasks and options for Define.

FRAME the boundaries for an evaluation

Set the parameters of the evaluation – its purposes, key evaluation questions and the criteria and standards to be used.

1. Identify primary intended users: Who are the primary intended users of this evaluation?

2. Decide purposes: What are the primary purposes and intended uses of the evaluation?

3. Specify the key evaluation questions: What are the high level questions the evaluation will seek to answer? How can these be developed?

4. Determine what ‘success’ looks like: What should be the criteria and standards for judging performance? Whose criteria and standards matter? What process should be used to develop agreement about these?

Download an overview of tasks and options for Frame.

DESCRIBE activities, outcomes, impacts and context

Collect and retrieve data to answer descriptive questions about the activities of the project/program/ policy, the various results it has had, and the context in which it has been implemented.

1. Sample: What sampling strategies will you use for collecting data?

2. Use measures, indicators or metrics: What measures or indicators will be used? Are there existing ones that should be used or will you need to develop new measures and indicators?

3. Collect and/ or retrieve data: How will you collect and/ or retrieve data about activities, results, context and other factors?

4. Manage Data: How will you organise and store data and ensure its quality?

5. Combine qualitative and quantitative data: How will you combine qualitative and quantitative data?

6. Analyse data: How will you investigate patterns in numeric or textual data?

7. Visualise data: How will you display data visually?

Download an overview of tasks and options for Describe.

UNDERSTAND CAUSES of outcomes and impacts

Collect and analyse data to answer causal questions about what has produced outcomes and impacts that have been observed.

1. Check the results support causal attribution: How will you assess whether the results are consistent with the theory that the intervention produced them?

2. Compare results to the counterfactual: How will you compare the factual with the counterfactual - what would have happened without the intervention?

3. Investigate possible alternative explanations: How will you investigate alternative explanations?

Download an overview of tasks and options for Understand Causes.

SYNTHESISE data from one or more evaluations

Combine data to form an overall assessment of the merit or worth of the intervention, or to summarize evidence across several evaluations.

1. Synthesise data from a single evaluation: How will you synthesise data from a single evaluation?

2. Synthesise data across evaluations: Do you need to synthesise data across evaluations? If so, how should this be done?

3. Generalise findings: How can the findings from this evaluation be generalized to the future, to other sites and to other programmes?

Download an overview of tasks and options for Synthesise.

REPORT & SUPPORT USE of findings

Develop and present findings in ways that are useful for the intended users of the evaluation, and support them to make use of them.

1. Identify reporting requirements: What timeframe and format is required for reporting?

2. Develop Reporting Media: What types of reporting formats will be appropriate for the intended users?

3. Ensure accessibility: How can the report be easy to access and use for different users?

4. Develop recommendations: Will the evaluation include recommendations? How will these be developed and by whom?

5. Support use: In addition to engaging intended users in the evaluation process, how will you support the use of evaluation findings?

Download an overview of tasks and options for Report and Support Use.


OUEI's picture
stéphane OUEI

This is what I need!!!! Thank you very much.

Patricia Rogers's picture
Patricia Rogers

We'd love to hear from you if you've used the Rainbow Framework in your work.

greet_peersman's picture
Greet Peersman

Thank you for these important comments and references.

In the BE Rainbow Framework, we use evaluation as an umbrella term to refer to both 'monitoring' and 'evaluation' tasks and options. Indeed, much of the information presented and discussed on the BE site is pertinent to both (for example: understand and engage stakeholders; establish decision making processes; develop program theory; identify primary intended users; use measures, indicators or metrics; visualise data; identify reporting requirements - to name just a few).

However, your point is well taken in that there are several instances where specific aspects related to 'monitoring' and its complementary role to 'evaluation' can be emphasised and described in greater detail. The BE core team is committing to facilitate such content improvements over the next 6 months with the input and feedback from BE users. If any of you is interested in being directly involved, please let us know.   

kashindi's picture


I would like to use tools from BetterEvaluation in order to build capacity of worker from my organization in Evaluation.

Patricia Rogers's picture
Patricia Rogers

Hi Pierre,

We're very happy for you to use material from BetterEvaluation in your organisation.  The terms of use make it clear that this is encouraged and all we need is adequate acknowledgement of the source:

2.3 RMIT University grants you a free licence to  use the editorial content, the taxonomy and user  generated content on this website, excluding any images,
under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial Unported licence available at  The required attribution for use of this content is “This information was originally published by, an international collaboration to improve evaluation practice and theory by sharing information about evaluation options and approaches”.

There is also a French language version of the Rainbow Framework. You can access it here

Warm regards


Anonymous's picture
asegede Kebede

thank you

Anonymous's picture

Hi! Is it possible to share information regarding the development of this framework and previous use with me please? Thank you 

Patricia Rogers's picture
Patricia Rogers

The Rainbow Framework built on Stephen Kemmis' Evaluation Planner and my Evaluation Menu, which was developed for teaching evaluation, and refined over several years with input from many people.

It has been used to make it easier for people to choose methods, because it limits the choices for each task.  It also embeds good evaluation practice, especially being clear about purpose and questions before moving to choose data collection methods.

Some people have used it to help them develop an evaluation plan or to review an evaluation plan.  You might find it easier to use the Manager's Guide to Evaluation, which take you through a step by step process, with the Rainbow Framework behind it for more detail as required.  



Anonymous's picture
Gilbert Mkamanga

Comprehensive and useful to M&E professionals 

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