Rainbow framework: Brief overview

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This tool can help you to plan an evaluation by prompting you to think about a series of key questions.

A more detailed and updated version of the Rainbow Framework is available.

It can be used to develop a complete evaluation plan or to undertake a discrete task such as documenting agreements in the evaluation terms of reference. It is important to consider the issues raised in all of the following evaluation planning questions, including reporting, at the beginning of an evaluation.

BetterEvaluation organises options into 32 different evaluation tasks, grouped by 7 colour coded clusters to make it easier for you to choose and use appropriate methods, strategies or processes.

Each of the individual clusters of the tool is laid out in a table checklist that identifies the task and the relevant evaluation planning questions and options (methods or strategies) that can be applied in each case.


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

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

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

Describe - 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.

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

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

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


BetterEvaluation (2014) BetterEvaluation Rainbow Framework and Planning Tool. Retrieved from www.betterevaluation.org

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