Step 1

Define intervention purpose and rationale

Why is this step important?

  • Defines your intervention and its objectives - the foundation for your M&E arrangements
  • Helps you develop a shared understanding of what you are trying to achieve and how you plan to achieve it
  • Ensures you have clear, evidence-based reasons for using your chosen intervention approach

What does this step involve?

  • Identify and engage stakeholders
  • Set out what you want to achieve
  • Examine insight and evidence to inform your approach
  • Explain how you plan to achieve your objectives

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Tools and resources


  • Purpose & Rationale Form

helpful resources

  • Logic Model Template

     Click to see all tools and resources...


The first step sets the foundations for your measurement and evaluation (M&E) approach. Investing your time here will provide you with the solid basis you need for all of the decisions you will make as you develop your approach.


In this step you need to work with stakeholders to define what you are aiming to achieve and use evidence and insight to decide on the most effective way to achieve it. Follow the steps below to work your way through Step 1. You may not need to start from scratch if your organisation has already gathered the evidence and thought about the rationale for your project.

1. Identify and Engage Stakeholders

Spend some time identifying the key people you need to involve or consult in the planning of your funding stream or project. This is likely to include: 

  • funders or funding recipients
  • the people or organisation(s) backing your project 
  • research and evaluation teams
  • delivery teams
  • relevant partner organisations
  • people who will benefit from your project

Running a workshop, or a series of workshops, is a good way of engaging these stakeholders to complete the steps below.

Recommended Action
Write all of the key stakeholders in the ‘Key Stakeholders’ section of the Purpose and Rationale Form (download via the links on the right).



Meet, discuss and agree the following with key stakeholders:

  • what you are trying to achieve (your objective)
  • who you are trying to reach
  • what you hope to learn


(See the FAQs page to understand the difference between outputs and outcomes.)

Outcomes refer to the specific impact or changes that you are trying to achieve, all of which should contribute to your objective. 

You may know your outcomes already. If not, start with your overall objective and break it down into smaller components that represent specific things that need to happen or change to fulfil your objective.

You might also think about the timeframe or order in which you expect certain changes to happen, and break this down into Short, Medium and Long-term outcomes.

outcomes timeframe
Short-term During the project
Medium-term By the end of the project
Long-term After the end of the project

Consider the relationship between these outcomes, and how you might measure this. For example, how short-term outcomes will help contribute to medium-term outcomes, and medium-term outcomes to long-term outcomes.

'strategic OUTCOMES' for sport

The government's 2015 sport strategy - Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation - sets out five strategic outcomes that focus on the benefits that sport and physical activity can bring to people and society:

  • Physical wellbeing
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Individual development
  • Social and community development
  • Economic development

Sport England investment will be directed towards the people, places and programmes where the impact on these outcomes will be greatest. It is important for all Sport England staff and recipients of Sport England funding to consider which strategic outcomes they are directly or indirectly aiming to influence.

Thinking about how your funding stream or project contributes to one or more of the five strategic outcomes will help ensure that your measurement and evaluation can demonstrate how your work is supporting the government's sport strategy.

While you will not always be expected to measure the impact of your work directly against these five outcomes, having a clear line of sight between investments and the strategic outcomes they are supporting will help you to set suitable objectives for your funding stream or project and select appropriate outcome indicators to measure success.

You can read more about the government's sport strategy and how Sport England is directing its investment to deliver against the five strategic outcomes for sport via the links below:

TIP: This step is really important – take the time to get it right because it sets the foundations for all the decisions you’ll need to make at every subsequent stage. Being really clear about what you want to achieve is essential for your M&E to be effective and provide you with the data and insight you need.

Recommended Action
Use your discussions with stakeholders to complete the ‘Programme Purpose’ and ‘Outcomes’ sections of the Purpose and Rationale Form.


You now need to think about how you are going to achieve your intended outcomes. Look at how other groups and organisations have brought about the changes you are aiming to achieve. Look at the evidence they have produced and what they have learnt about the issues. This will help you to develop an effective approach for your own funding stream or project.

Look for information that already exists on how to appeal to your target audience(s) and how to achieve your objectives. We have provided some resources to help you find existing evidence and insight that might be useful:

This process of looking at other projects, evidence and research to inform your own approach - sometimes called 'formative evaluation' - is important as it helps you create the most effective project design. This can involve:

  • reviewing existing research, evidence or information
  • learning from previous projects about what has or has not worked well
  • carrying out fresh qualitative (descriptive) research and/or quantitative (numbers) research

Recommended Action
Write an overview of your findings in the ‘Summary of Evidence’ section of the Purpose and Rationale Form.


You should now be clear about:

  • what you want to achieve
  • the audience(s) you want to reach
  • the existing evidence available

Now work backwards to work out what is likely to be the best approach to achieve your objectives. A logic model is a good tool to help you do this. We’ve provided a logic model template, as well as explanations and examples showing how to create one. You can access these via the resource links on the right.

Recommended Actions
1. Use the Logic Model template to set out your inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes.

2. Add the Logic Model to the Purpose and Rationale Form.

Once you have defined and agreed your approach, be sure to set it out clearly, together with the reasons why you believe this approach will be the most effective. 


When you are planning to try something that hasn’t previously been tested, you should be clear about the assumptions that you are basing your approach on. If you don’t have a good basis for your approach you should not carry out the project.

Recommended Actions
1. Provide details of your planned approach in the ‘Programme Approach’ section of the Purpose and Rationale Form.
2. Explain why your chosen approach is the right one to achieve your objectives in the ‘Programme Rationale’ section of the Purpose and Rationale Form.


Recommended outputs

Output icon

Purpose & Rationale Form

Completing the 'Purpose & Rationale Form' will provide you with a blueprint that will guide you through the development and implementation of your M&E approach

Purpose & Rationale FormOpens in new window
Output icon

Logic Model

Creating a logic model for your funding stream or project is not essential, but it will help give you confidence that your chosen approach is the most likely to achieve your objectives

Logic Model TemplateOpens in new window

Framework overview