Step 5: Minimum Viable Accountability

One of the beauties of running a participatory proposal process with Cobudget is that deciding which proposals to fund is quite easy and fun.

The next step after that --managing the flow of funds, ensuring work is delivered and proposers are held accountable-- is unfortunately less so. This is when things get serious! If your organization is small, you can rely to a large extent on interpersonal ties and trust to help ensure proposals are delivered, but once you reach a certain size, you will need an accountability system that does not rely on people knowing each other.

Every group has different needs in terms of accountability, so it is important that before starting your funding round, you think about the accountability standards in your group and how to ensure accountability.

Useful questions for choosing an adequate accountability system:

  • How rigid / flexible should the system be? Which aspects is your group willing to be more vs. less flexible on, i.e. deadlines, deliverables, budget spent?

  • What accountability and reporting needs are there from the source of the money (i.e. a funder)?

  • Who should be in charge of monitoring proposal delivery - an individual, a dedicated team, or is it peer-to-peer monitoring? Do they need any qualification? (i.e. accountant)

  • How automated should the accountability system be?

  • How much are you willing to pay to ensure reliable delivery?

Methods for creating accountability

  1. Make accountability part of your proposal template. Include the question: "How do I want to be held accountable for this proposal?". This will help you get clear deliverables that can be tracked.

  2. Setup a proposal tracking sheet to keep an overview of proposals that have been paid out, delivered, etc. You can find tracking templates here.

  3. Ask proposers to share regular updates in a place you agree on:

    1. A certain communication channel or directly on the proposal page.

    2. If you have a regular call (i.e. weekly or monthly), make it part of your rhythm to have a time-slot where proposers are invited to share proposal updates. This helps create a strong feeling of accountability to the group.

  4. Create a delayed payout policy for funded proposals. For instance, you could agree to hold back part of all funds in an escrow account, and pay out those funds based on pre-defined milestones (tied to deliverables).

  5. Nominate a proposals accountability team to manually follow up on the status of proposals and flag to the group if a proposal is late or not being delivered.

In the Genesis Alpha Community, an “Accountability Task Force ” was created to track proposals. Read more and see an example of the proposal tracking sheet.

You can download and reuse this tracking template:

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