The table below provides a simple framework for assessing the benefits of participation, based on the four generic reasons why engagement is carried out.



Possible indicators

How to get data

Important assumptions

Improved governance

Increased trust in government



Surveys before and after the engagement process



Trust may be affected by a wide range of influences; this process may only be one among many


Social capital and social justice

Increased equality of access to decision-making


Developed new contacts / given access to new networks

Demographic analysis of participants + feedback from them on the difference made by the exercise


Questionnaires after engagement events; interviews later

Social capital can be a difficult concept, and is not always understood to operate beyond the local level; but the importance of increasing access to different people and new networks does work at national level.


Improved quality of services / projects / programmes

Costs saved by people taking more responsibility for service outcomes and making less demand (e.g. healthy living)


Quicker decisions by avoiding conflict

Feedback from doctors and patients through surveys, polls etc.


Collecting costs of dealing with conflict (e.g. complaints, objections, campaigns etc)

It is difficult to separate the impacts of engagement from other elements of service improvement.


The costs of conflict are rarely recorded, so data would have to be collected from scratch

Capacity building and learning

Greater awareness and understanding of the issues


More confidence and willingness to get involved in future

Questionnaires with participants after the process; and follow-up interviews later


Questionnaires with participants before and after the process; and follow-up interviews later

These are relatively straightforward issues to test with participants before, during and after the process



For more guidance on evaluating public participation, see How do I evaluate participation?