Nonprofit Accountability Alphabet: RASI, RACI, PACSI

nonprofit accountability

In my last post “Get a GRPI to Improve Your Nonprofit Team,” we discussed how using a Six Sigma tool called a GRPI (which is an acronym for Goals, Roles, Processes and Interpersonal Relationships) can be used to increase the effectiveness of non-profit teams. Today, let’s add more letters to the alphabet soup of team effectiveness by talking about nonprofit accountability matrices like the RASI, RACI or maybe a PACSI.

To paraphrase Willy Wonka, there are so many responsibility assignment matrix models and so very little time. If you want to explore 14 different versions, then I suggest you check out the topic area on Wikipedia. 

So, what is a RASI? Well, it’s not a Razzie, a “reward” given out to really bad movies. RASI is acronym that stands for Responsible, Authority, Support and Inform.

While the GRPI I discussed in my previous post was a team tool that helped define a team’s big picture, the RASI is a small picture tool. By small picture, I mean it doesn’t focus on big things like goals and processes. A RASI gets into breaking a team project down into small activities. Each team member is assigned a role for each activity within a project.

Confusing? Go ahead and admit it. It’s okay. That’s what the below examples hope to clear up.

Last year, I was engaged by a church to work with the church council’s Governance Committee to re-wire their annual board development process (e.g. Nominating Committee model). 

The first order of business was to sit down with the committee chair (his name is Brian) and brainstorm a list of activities to recruit volunteers. Which if you’re in Tennessee might be easier than other places. Some examples of these recruitment activities included: board composition policy and assessment, prospect identification, prospect ranking, prospect cultivation, and so on and so on. 

Have your spreadsheet program or other table-forming software handy. After adding all of the board development activities to the first column of the RASI nonprofit accountability matrix, we added every team members’ name and assigned them a letter. 

  • If someone was “responsible” for making sure the activity/task got completed (e.g. leader/facilitator for that specific activity), then they were labeled as the “R”  — sort of like a head pirate.
  • If they were a worker bee for a specific activity, then they were the “S” (of which there are usually many).
  • If they weren’t actively involved but needed to be kept in the loop — because one task can impact other tasks in a project — then those individuals were the “I”. Unlike what sports radio might tell you, there are “I”s on RASI teams.
  • The person labeled as the “R” reports to another person who is known as the “A,” who is the ultimate authority on all things and someone who can authorize unforeseen things like spending more money than what might have been budgeted.

“R” is the person responsible. “S” is the person(s) supporting the work. “I” is the person(s) who need to be kept informed. And “A” is the person with the ultimate authority to make decisions.

No one assigns the roles, though rolls or a snack of some sort might be appreciated. Roles are determined through consensus building discussions during a committee meeting prior to undertaking the project. 

Why? Because volunteers are more likely to engage and follow-through if they originally agreed to take on the activity. Choice matters.

Hmmmm? This is probably all as clear as mud. Right? So, let me share a generic RASI for a board development process to clarify. (Of course, names and specifics have been changed to protect the innocent.)

 

Board Development ActivityBrianJaneAmyKimMikeMaryCouncil PresidentLead PastorCompletion Date
Assessment of current board for gaps in traits, skills, experiences, demographicsRSSSSSAI1-Sep
Prospect identificationSSSSSRAS15-Sep
Prospect cultivationSSSRSSAS15-Oct
Prospect rankingSRSSSSAI31-Oct
RecruitmentRSSSSSAI15-Jan
Election of slated board & ministries volunteersRIIIIIAI21-Jan
Onboarding/orientationRSSSSSAS1-Feb

 

Brian said the biggest advantages in using the RASI were being able to both share the heavy burden of leadership and to have a structured method to track the responsibilities for all members for each task. It was a common practice at every committee meeting for everyone to pull out the RASI and discuss how things were coming along.

It sparked honest discussions and kept the committee on track with what needed to happen. Which reminds. Does anyone still use a scorecard when watching a baseball game?

Every project for every team (both staff and volunteer teams) should operate within some form of a responsibility assignment matrix.

Recently, I started working with a Boys & Girls Club on re-wiring their annual campaign. Embedded within their campaign plan in a section labeled “Implementation Action Items” is a RASI for each phase. Here is another generic sample RASI for an annual campaign.

  

Board Development ActivitySallyZacAlbertMissyKayMitchBoard PresidentDevelopment DirectorExecutive DirectorCompletion Date
Recruit Steering Committee leadershipASR1-Sep
Develop case for supportSSSSSSARI15-Sep
ID volunteer prospectsRASI30-Sep
Identify donors/prospectsSSSSSSARS30-Sep
Evaluate donors/prospectsSSSSSSARS31-Oct
Set campaign goal & review/revise written campaign plan + toolsRSSSSSASS15-Dec
Recruit volunteer solicitors for Family PhaseIRSSSSASS15-Jan
Recruit volunteer solicitors for Friends PhaseISRSSSSSS15-Feb
Recruit volunteer solicitors for Public PhaseISSRSSSSS15-Apr
So on and so forth until you have all campaign activities covered

  

If you want to improve your nonprofit team to be strong, engaged and lean-mean-productive-machines, then you need to have tools like a RASI in your organizational development and nonprofit manager workbox, along with the GRPI. Even if the tools sometimes remind you of a bowl of alphabet soup, they can ultimately help spell out the activities for your teams, feeding into the success of the projects.

Nonprofit Sustainability

Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson

Fundraising Coach & Organizational Development Consultant at The Healthy Non-Profit
Erik Anderson, CBCS is a consultant and coach who specializes in nonprofit fundraising and organizational development issues. In his 20+ years of working on the frontline of the nonprofit sector, as an internal consultant for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and currently as an external consultant for his company The Healthy Non-Profit LLC, he has helped raise tens of millions of dollars in support. He has also helped countless CEOs, fundraising professionals and board of directors develop bigger organizational muscles and grow their sense of sustainability.
Erik Anderson

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