Nonprofits are being told to produce performance metrics to provide confidence for donors and other people who are interested in their work to show numerically how their programs are working and that the funds are being well managed.
But I have found many nonprofits can be utterly mystified about what exactly these numbers are, how they can be found and then how to them put into meaningful form.
Performance metrics come from:
1. Internal systems that satisfy client or member requirements; your programs and products.
2. Identifying specific, quantifiable outputs of work, programming, and fundraising: goals for membership, and the number of people reached, and funds raised.
3. Establishing targets and goals so you can see how well you did after you compare the plan with the outcome: Did you meet your goals, or fall short? By how much?
4. Deciding if the work that has been done satisfies a standard of performance that has been set by the board and staff. And if so, what next; and if not, then what?
Below are listed elements of your work that can be used to quantify some of the activity you do:
Acquisition: You can’t have a party alone, where are your members coming from? How are they finding you? From ads in periodicals or the press, from professional referrals, from word of mouth, from Facebook or other social media?
Activation: Once someone new lands on your site or calls your office, what is the result of that first introduction? Was it a good and positive experience, did they find what they were looking for or did they leave unhappy? Do they go away thinking about coming back?
Retention: this is the coming back part- from the number of first time visitors, how many return a second time and request more information? Of those, how many come back a third or fourth time? How attractive is your organization to visitors and guests after their initial curiosity?
Referral: was the initial contact so good that that guest referred someone else? How can you find that out; can you measure your ‘word of mouth’ effect? If you seek other like-minded folks to your organization and cause, sharing among friends and colleagues is an important adjunct to acquisition.
Conversion: once someone knows who you are, what you do and where you are, how does their financial behavior count? Do they donate, buy something, join, volunteer?
If you get asked for numbers, these are the kind of numbers that people will want to see. It is important to set up a way to acquire them and be able to create some useful reports with them.
But while metrics are very important, and more and more supporters are requesting this type of information, metrics can only convey a certain aspect of the work your organization does. Do keep track of this data, and do consider what this data can show about how you do your work. At the same time, keep in mind many of the things that data CAN’T show or measure; a sense of relief, of community, of hope that your members and clients can get from you.Those things are much more difficult to calculate and just as important.
Let us help you produce numbers about what you do that enhance your work but never overlook the importance of your commitment and the difference you make.