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A Tool for Many Projects

If you’ve been around the AltruNext community for more than a hot minute, you know that we love nimble tools—those that can be deployed for multiple purposes. Some of our favorites are the Appreciative Inquiry philosophy, SOAR, and, the one we’re sharing today: RACI.

This oldie-but-goodie tool was integral years ago when we helped prepare Monarch for transformational federal funding. Now we’re using it to help another organization make their strategic plan actionable and create clear accountabilities. (No plan should get dusty on a shelf!)

So, what is it?

RACI is a project management tool that helps establish clear responsibilities and promote good communication. RACI stands for:

  • R—Responsible

  • A—Accountable

  • C—Consulted

  • I—Informed

What does it mean?

Responsible: Those who do the actual tasks.

Accountable: Where the buck stops. This person delegates and reviews the work. It’s important to note that there can only be one Accountable person, but there can be many Responsible people.

Consulted: Those who provide feedback or input on the workflows.

Informed: People to keep up-to-date on the project.

How do you use it?

RACI is flexible and can be used in a wide variety of projects—large and small. Here are some ways we’ve used it with nonprofit organizations:

  • Setting up internal processes like the phases of a campaign, building a major gifts program, improving governance functions, etc. How do we break down this large goal into smaller tasks with specific accountabilities? Who needs to be consulted because this work will impact them?

  • Breaking down silos and improving the efficacy and efficiency of communication for a specific project. Who should continue to be regularly informed?

  • Analyzing staffing within a department and identifying when new folks should be hired or current job descriptions need to be realigned to match the team’s actual workflows. Are there ample team members to be responsible for these tasks?

  • Helping ensure that everyone knows their role in the implementation of a strategic planning process. How do we divvy up the workflows so that they’re manageable and we have clear roles?

Often, a RACI can be created with a literal—or virtual—whiteboard activity during a team meeting. Brainstorm the list of steps or activities involved in the workflow, and then decide who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. Experiment to suit your purposes. Some people flip the letters to emphasize Accountability first (ARCI). There's also DACI, RASCI, etc., which are all similar approaches.

Whichever specific version you use, the goal is to have clear assignments and good communication so that the team functions at its highest and best level. As Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind.”

Here's to project management that is clear and, therefore, kind.

Whiteboard photo by Christina @ on Unsplash.


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