Know better, do better

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Local nonprofits attended a training led by Mark Friedman about Results-Based Accountability.

Contributor: Rachel Podoski, Research and Evaluation Coordinator at United Way Fox Cities

United Way Fox Cities has always been accountable to our donors. We put great effort into vetting programs that we believe will put the dollars to best use. Our partner agencies do important work that touches nearly one third of residents and improves the overall quality of life in our community.

There is much to be proud of in the Fox Cities, yet when we look to the LIFE Study, there are still areas where we fall short. These priority issues are closely associated with United Way Fox Cities’ Goals, which include mental health, financial stability, and the safety and success of children and youth. To tackle these big issues, we have adopted a new framework that can help us demonstrate how funded programs and other efforts can contribute to larger population-level results.

At United Way Fox Cities, we know we fund excellent programs, yet the issues are still there. Agencies have great impact on their clients, but no single program can reach a whole population. Enter: Results-Based Accountability™, or RBA! This framework presents concepts and provides tools that will drive the next evolution of how we do our work. A quotation from Maya Angelou rings true, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

RBA is based on common-sense ideas; by asking the right questions, we can get better answers. In order to move us forward in that effort, we reached out to the man who created the RBA model and literally wrote the book, Mark Friedman. Last month, at a workshop sponsored by United Way Fox Cities and the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Mark presented “RBA 101” to over 200 community members.

During the workshop, participants were able to do real work on real community issues, generating action plans that will help us begin to build the strategies United Way Fox Cities will use to reach our Goals. With a deeper understanding of RBA under our caps, we are well positioned to advance work towards our Goals, revamp the way we operate in Community Development, and measurably improve conditions in the Fox Cities!