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Read the latest expert insights, trends, and best practices around impact measurement and leveraging actionable data to drive meaningful change.

The Impact of Results Based Accountability for Nonprofits 


Results Based Accountability (RBA) aids nonprofits in achieving outcomes for communities and initiatives. Additionally, a results based strategy assists nonprofits in determining how well a program or service is functioning and where organizations can make improvements to attain the intended outcomes. 


The RBA guide begins with the objective in mind. It then works backward to assist in reaching the intended goal. Finally, it summarizes the outcomes of a program or service for a specific group or community.


We’ve outlined the “accountability for results” tactic, so you can see if it’s right for your organization.


What is Results Based Accountability?


Mark Friedman of the Fiscal Policies Studies Institute came up with the concept of Results Based Accountability. RBA is a straightforward method of measuring impact that starts with the aim in mind and works backward to the means. It is a method of thinking and doing that can be used to enhance the lives in communities, cities, counties, states, countries, and program performance.


RBA allows policymakers, funders, and program managers to assess how well they are performing in attaining a certain quality of life outcome and where modifications may be needed.


RBA helps communities and organizations move from talking about problems to taking actions to solve them through a data-driven decision-making process. It's a straightforward, common-sense foundation that everyone can grasp. 


The difference with RBA from all other frameworks is that it identifies those who are accountable for results. It's crucial to comprehend since it decides who's in charge of what. 


How Does Results Based Accountability Work? 


As stated previously, the core behind RBA is that it begins with the aim in mind and works backward, one step at a time, to the means. The ends for communities are circumstances of well-being for children, families, and the whole community. 


Results based accountability examples include determining the percentage of people who complete a job training program and obtain and maintain a good-paying job, thereby creating "good-paying residents," "a safe and clean neighborhood," or even more precise requirements like "public areas free of vandalism," or "a location where neighbors know each other." When it comes to programs, the goals are how consumers benefit when the program functions well.


It is essential to find effective indicators for determining how far a community has progressed toward achieving communal well-being. The measures are known as community indicators for communities and are often gathered by governmental organizations. A town that wants to attract inhabitants with vital jobs could consider "turning the unemployment curve."


Results Based Accountability Template


Here is a brief rundown of the necessary steps toward creating an initiative using a Results Based Accountability strategy:

  • Determine the populations.

  • Decide on your outcomes and indicators.

  • Make baselines and projections.

  • Determine what works and how to put together a strategy.

  • Make a budget and an action plan.

  • Put the strategy into action and regularly check on it.

  • Determine, choose, and assess performance.

What Impact Does Results Based Accountability Have On Nonprofits?


Nonprofits can use programs established with Results Based Accountability to improve their internal capacity, incorporate tested standards and protocols into their everyday operations, and create a culture of accountability.


Programs that use Results Based Accountability to help charities can start by answering three transformative questions about their operations:

  • What exactly are we trying to achieve?

  • What strengths and skills do we have at our disposal?

  • How can our programs impact a community positively?

Mark Friedman established and detailed this Results Based Accountability planning and assessment system in his book Trying Hard is Not Good Enough. RBA has proven to be a reliable and effective tool for dozens of organizations and state agencies over the last 15 years.


It enhances the nonprofit sector's potential to produce meaningful, long-term changes in the well-being of communities and individuals through a results-based approach.


Why Use Results Based Accountability?


RBA makes a difference in the lives of children, families, and communities, as well as the effectiveness of programs.


Pros Of Results Based Accountability Framework

  • Is a simple, common sense process that anyone can understand.

  • Assists groups in surfacing and challenging assumptions that can be barriers to innovation.

  • Encourages cooperation.

  • Data and transparency are used to guarantee responsibility for children's, families, and community's well-being, as well as program performance.

Cons Of Results Based Accountability Framework


Conversely, there are some factors that need to be considered before prescribing to any set framework. For example, before adopting RBA, keep these aspects in mind:

  • A program's and RBA's timeframes may be significantly shorter than the time it takes for benefits to appear, implying that longer-term outcomes may be overlooked.

  • RBA will only measure what it is told. 

  • If unforeseeable events occur or your objectives shift, a new plan will need to be created or an old one will need to be altered to accommodate the unplanned event for RBA to remain helpful and relevant.

UpMetrics Has the Solutions You Need


If you’re searching for the best framework to implement into your organization, contact UpMetrics today. We offer a free demo that can show you how UpMetrics' impact measurement platform can gather qualitative and relevant data to help you make the right decisions for your nonprofit.

Post by Annie Rhodes
October 20, 2021
At UpMetrics, Annie works across our Client Success, Outreach and Product teams to inspire organizations on their data journeys, empowering them and their grant partners to embrace their data and capture critical stories in order to better understand, accelerate and communicate their impact. Throughout her career, Annie has worked at the unique intersection of technology and social good. From her work in grants management at the Ford foundation to her product management and strategy roles more recently in technology, Annie has a background as an advocate for social good sector transformation and growth. Annie went to Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY, where she studied Psychology and played Div I women's soccer. She received her MBA from Pace University in NYC with majors in Management and International Business. She currently teaches a Analytics/Metrics in the Nonprofit Sector course as part of Columbia University's SPS Nonprofit Management Master's Program. She also stays involved in the community by doing some volunteering.