Kiwi council getting results with the SmartyGrants outcomes tool

Posted on 31 Oct 2023

PALMY performing arts trust grant recipients 2022 2
The Palmerston North City Council is using the SmartyGrants Outcomes Engine to improve its grants programs. Pictured are recent recipients of their performing arts grants. Picture: PNCC

On the North Island of New Zealand, Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) governs a university city of about 81,000 residents.

The council has long been a keen user of SmartyGrants. However, when news of the SmartyGrants Outcomes Engine module reached town, council officers saw an opportunity to further streamline their reporting processes.

Specifically, they sought to integrate the Outcomes Engine to align with the approach they were already using to report on their outcomes: RBA, or results-based accountability methodology.

Palmerston north city cbd
"Palmy" has adapted the SmartyGrants system to its needs. Picture: PNCC

Understanding results-based accountability (RBA)

Results-based accountability (or outcomes-based accountability, OBA, as it is known in the UK) is a tried and tested performance measurement framework favoured by many program managers for its simplicity and ease of use. RBA relies on identifying clear results, establishing relevant indicators, and making decisions based on data to assess progress and guide strategic actions. The crux of RBA is linking actions to outcomes to transform society for the better.

The transition: embracing the Outcomes Engine

Jen Riley
SmartyGrants chief impact officer Jen Riley

SmartyGrants’ chief impact officer, Jen Riley, understands the flexibility and potential of the Outcomes Engine inside out, and she was confident in its ability to help Palmerston North to collect essential RBA data. She joined forces with community development advisor officer Cindy Nguyen to embark on a journey to adapt the Outcomes Engine to collect answers to the key RBA questions: How much? How well? And is anyone better off?

Twelve months on, the transformation brought about by integrating the Outcomes Engine within the SmartyGrants platform has freed the council’s community development advisor Cindy Nguyen from grants grunt work.

The system provides her with a comprehensive report that meticulously outlines “how much”, “how well” and “whether anyone is better off” for each applicant over the reporting period. The need to transfer or enter data into separate reporting software is now a thing of the past, the reporting process has been streamlined, and overall efficiency has been bolstered.

“The Outcomes Engine has enabled us to show the connection between what groups are doing and PNCC’s overall strategic goals,” Ms Nguyen says.

A ready-to-go solution for grantmakers using results based accountability

Cindy Nguyen
Palmerston North community development advisor Cindy Nguyen

Ms Riley commended the successful pilot with Palmerston North City Council, saying the Outcomes Engine had once again proven its ability to support and integrate with a wide range of evaluation methodologies.

“As a result of this successful collaboration between Palmerston North City Council and SmartyGrants, we now possess the templates for seamless data collection and reporting that are tailored to the RBA approach.

“This invaluable experience has positioned SmartyGrants to offer ready-to-go solutions for other grantmakers who are adopting or aspiring to adopt the RBA methodology for measuring and reporting outcomes.”

More information

More about Palmerston North’s grant schemes

More about the Smarty Grants Outcomes Engine