Outcomes & Evaluation

Over the past 2 decades, Vermont nonprofits and state agencies have found Results-Based Accountability (RBA) a powerful and effective tool for outcomes and evaluation. Results-Based Accountability is a planning and evaluation framework developed by Mark Friedman, field-tested in Vermont, and outlined in Mark’s classic book Trying Hard is Not Good Enough.

With a results-based approach, Common Good Vermont strengthens the nonprofit sector’s capacity to make significant, sustained improvements in the well-being of Vermont communities and individuals. We do this by asking nonprofits to answer three transformational questions about their operations:

  • How much are we doing?
  • How well are we doing it?
  • and – most critically for all of us – Is anyone better off?


Vermont Passes Outcomes Bill – S.293 Signed by Governor June 12, 2014

Governor Peter Shumlin signs S.293, “The Outcomes Bill”, designed to increase accountability and improve decision making throughout Vermont state government was approved by the Vermont House of Representatives on April 30, 2014. Sponsored by Senator Diane Snelling, S.293, “An Act Relating to reporting on population-level outcomes and indicators and on program level performance measures”, the bill enables the  use of results based policy making in the Vermont Legislature, throughout state government and Vermont’s social sector.

Sue Zeller, Chief Performance Officer, attributes the right timing [of passing this legislation] to collaboration from three major sectors: the state’s executive branch, Legislature and nonprofit service community. She said past similar efforts did not have such diverse buy-in from the sectors that conceive and carry out so much of the state’s service work.


The Program

“It is a cultural transition from simply having a genuine interest in improvement … to truly infusing outcomes thinking into the way you manage your organization.”
– Mario Morino, Leap of Reason

Common Good Vermont offers a variety of opportunities for nonprofits to strengthen their internal capacity, integrate Results-Based Accountability (RBA) into their daily operations, and build a statewide culture of accountability.

  • RBA Training
    Since early 2012, hundreds of Vermonters have been introduced to RBA, whether at Common Good Vermont’s 2012 or 2013 Vermont Nonprofit Conference, sessions with Mark Friedman in Montpelier in September 2012 and February 2013, or in special workshops for philanthropists, legislators or nonprofit leaders. Stay tuned for additional training opportunities in the future.
  • RBA Consulting
    We understand that often organizations seek support in their efforts to integrate RBA into their decision-making processes. CGVT is in the process of developing a list of certified RBA trainers and coaches available to facilitate community meetings, provide technical assistance, or introduce a group to RBA. In the meantime, email [email protected] for recommendations.
  • The Vermont Accountability Compact
    In collaboration with many community partners, we are proud to announce the Vermont Accountability Compact. This historic document gives Vermonters the opportunity to make a personal commitment to advancing a culture of responsibility in our state.
  • Measuring What Matters
    With a view towards the collective impact of networked action, this blog maintained by Common Good Vermont tracks the diverse efforts around the state to use data to keep us on track. Blog followers will also be able to read fresh research and view case studies on effective outcomes measurement.


Common Good Vermont provides online networking, resources and technical assistance in nonprofit capacity building;

Additional partners include:

  • SerVermont: oversees AmeriCorps and VISTA throughout the state;
  • United Way of Chittenden County: dedicated champion of accountability and impact;
  • United Ways of Vermont and the United Ways of Addison, Lamoille and Windham Counties: pioneers of the “community impact” model in Vermont;
  • Vermont Community Foundation: Vermont’s largest foundation, major catalyst for nonprofit capacity-building and sector development.

We also would like to express our gratitude to our many key community partners who have support Vermont’s RBA work:



Our goal to strengthen the capacity of small to midsize NPOs in Vermont to make significant, sustained improvements in healthy futures, education and economic opportunities for all Vermonters.

The specific objectives of the program, as identified in our program proposal, are to:

  1. raise awareness throughout Vermont’s nonprofit sector about the value of establishing performance management systems,
  2. provide small to midsize nonprofit organizations with the tools and resources to implement basic performance management systems,
  3. build the capacity of small to midsize nonprofits to develop and implement comprehensive performance management systems based on the Results-Based Accountability™ (RBA) framework,
  4. develop shared indicators with promise for statewide use in priority areas, and
  5. increase the ability of the state’s intermediary capacity-building organizations to leverage additional training and financial resources to assist small to midsize nonprofits to develop performance measurement systems and other management competencies.


Build on the success of Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, we use the trust and mutual regard established by the consortium partners serving small to midsize nonprofits to provide both basic and intensive training in performance measurement, and specifically in RBA. We create a networked response to nonprofit capacity building throughout Vermont that leverages and expands current efforts in systems of performance measurement. This work is made possible by partnership and collaboration with intermediary capacity-building organizations including; including but not limited to, United Way of Chittenden County, United Ways of Vermont, and the Vermont Community Foundation.

To maximize the long-term sustainability of these efforts, we

  1. partner with qualified and experienced team of trainers,
  2. use a variety of facilitation/teaching strategies shown to be effective at instituting organization-level change within small and midsize nonprofits, and
  3. employ a cohort model to foster lasting peer learning communities.

“What would we do differently if outcomes really mattered?”
– Mark Friedman, Trying Hard is Not Good Enough