Accountability. It’s a big word and a big concept — one that is becoming increasingly important in both the public and private sector.
In the non-profit world, accountability is becoming a critical part of the culture. Non-profit programs need to be accountable, not only to their funders, but to their clients, volunteers and program participants. Non-profit organizations need to be clear about what they achieve (the needs they address and the outcomes they produce), why those achievements matter, and why those outcomes are worth investments of time and money.
Big Brothers Big Sisters embraces accountability as a guiding principle, including adding an accountability statement to its mission and vision. BBBS utilizes an Agency Information Management system that tracks every aspect of service delivery, assuring transparency in agency operations. And assisted by independent researchers, BBBS implemented an evaluation system that tracks and reports statistically significant individual and aggregate program results in order to quantify its impact on the individuals it serves.
Coinciding with the celebration of National Mentoring Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (of which Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska is a full affiliate) has just released its first ever Youth Outcomes Report, quantifying achievements in the three outcome areas identified in the accountability statement:
We partner with parents/guardians, volunteers, and others in the community and hold ourselves accountable for each child in our program achieving:
• Higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships;
• Avoidance of risky behaviors; and
• Educational success.
The report, released on Jan. 23, reflects the organization’s collective progress and success in the outcome areas stated above that significantly change children’s lives for the better, forever.
The scales used in the evaluation tool (Youth Outcome Survey) for each strategic outcome area are as follows:
• The area of higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships (social-emotional competence) utilized the following scales: social acceptance, parental trust, scholastic competency, presence of special adult, and educational expectations.
• Avoidance of risky behaviors utilized attitudes toward risk: smoking, drinking, drugs, skipping school, hitting, breaking school rules, school tardiness and truancy.
• The area of educational success utilized scholastic competency, grades, truancy and educational expectations.
BBBS found statistically significant improvement in the following socio-emotional competency areas:
• Social Acceptance
• Parental Trust
• Special Adult
We found statistically significant improvement in the following educational areas:
• Scholastic Competency
• Educational Expectations
We found statistically significant improvement in the following risk areas:
• Attitudes toward risk
• Skipping School
• Breaking rules in School
• Being Late for School
Additionally, a significant percentage of youth improved in multiple areas as is indicated below:
• 91.5 percent of youth showed improvement or maintained an average or above average score across at least three of eight outcome measures in Community-Based programs; 89.4 percent in School-Based;
•97.9 percent and 96.6 percent of youth maintained an average or above average score or indicated improvement in the area of socio-emotional competence for Community-Based and School-Based programs, respectively;
• 88.8 percent of youth showed improvement or maintained an average or above average score in the area of avoidance of risky behaviors in Community-Based programs; 83.4 percent in School-based;
• 94.5 percent of youth showed improvement or maintained an average or above average score in the area of educational success in Community-Based programs; 95.2 percent in School-based.
• 83.5 percent of youth showed improvement or maintained an average or above average score in all three strategic outcome areas in Community-Based programs; 73.4 percent in School-based.
Clearly, Big Brothers Big Sisters produces results. Partnering with schools, state and local organizations, the goal of BBBS is to provide lasting positive impact for participating children, their schools, their families, and their communities.
Volunteers want to know that their efforts make a lasting difference; donors want to know that their investments produce significant results, and partners want to know that they are contributing to positive community impacts. In this first annual outcome report, Big Brothers Big Sisters has demonstrated its commitment to being accountable to our volunteers, donors, partners, and the children we serve. To celebrate National Mentoring Month, consider making an investment of time or money in Big Brothers Big Sisters, a program that embraces accountability and produces results for the children and youth of Alaska.
• Rehbaum is CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska.