Recently in the fundraising world, there has been a great deal of discussion about measurements. What is being measured, how is it being measured. It is interesting to see this because I did a talk to a group of college students about the difference between non-profits and private companies, and I said it was that non-profits don’t measure things like private entities do. The reason, in part, is due to the work environments. People who work in private entities are trying to demonstrate their value, so they measure things to show individual results. Non-profits look at their co-workers as “family” and believe in group results. Terry Axelrod, the founder of Benevon, discusses this when she talks about “Soul Searching Questions”. One of these questions is “What have you said in the past to justify not hitting your dollar goal”. This questions is not about the facts, numbers and processes, this question is about the feelings. (To be clear, Benevon is about number and processes).
I first began talking about metrics in my BLOG, Become a SUPER model. As I worked with non-profits, the need for measurement is clear.
- MORE COMPETITION – There are over 1 million charitable organizations in the US. And even though there has been more money given to charitable orgs in the last several years, the competition for that dollar has grown exponentially.
- IT IS A SOUGHT OUT CAREER – Non-profit careers have moved to a whole other level. From part time locally focused groups that gathered in living rooms, to multi-million dollar entities with hundreds of chapters and affect change everyday. Non-profits and fundraising is a career, where motivated Type A people are coming to work to make a difference because they know they are making a difference. There are even specialized degrees at colleges and universities.
- THE INTERNET – Just like every other industry, non-profits have to deal with the bevvy of information (and mis-information) that is on the internet. The new non-profit professionals need to be equipped with the facts and the means to present them.
As we look at metrics, to make sure we are measuring items that will move us forward. In all honesty, that may not be clear when you begin measuring, but make sure you evaluate what you measure with these questions in the first 30-90 days.
Is it relevant and consistent? Does what you measure demonstrate the impact or success of your organization, or does it just demonstrate an individuals contributions? In my opening paragraph, I share that individuals in private entities create measurements to demonstrate their value, not the organizations. Good and bad, it is required that not for profits demonstrate their positive impact to earn a dollar. This is due there often being no tangible exchange for a donation. Are you counting crayons when all the other groups or the government are counting pencils? Is the organization using kilograms where pounds are the standard weight.
Can you explain it? There are scientist, social scientist, and mathematicians that author whitepapers to explain different categories of statistics. With all the “apps” today, it is often easy to generate charts, graphs, and slidedecks to explain a measurement or result. Even with all those, do you get head nods or engaged questioners. Engaged questioners is what we want, right? Better than graphs and charts, do you have a story that demonstrates the difference. Amy Eisenstein explains this concept well through her explanation of social return on investment.
Most importantly, does it motivate!? Forgive me as I talk sales. Years ago one of my sales manager colleagues was devastated because he had hired a guy who was an EMT and seemed to really believe in the products his division offered (First aid equipment, defibrillators, etc.). You can train just about everything but belief. His “numbers” showed he was putting in the effort, but the results weren’t there. I asked to see the hiring packet with all the notes. Our traditional “numbers” focused on money. This person was all about saving lives. He believed in the products because he knew they saved lives, and he knew the stats (the company provided) about how many lives having things like a defibrillator or an epinephrine injector (epi-pen) could save. I told my colleague to change the conversation with this salesperson from a quota of dollars, to a quota of lives saved. It worked! The guy crushed the quota. Long story, but simple message: Listen first, then use the right information, not the standard information. The right information truly motivates your people and your donors. Then is most effective when you train your team to listen rather than present.
Because we want to improve our organizations, and ourselves we measure. The challenge is to measure effectively. Also, if there is already a tool out there (like a CRM), don’t reinvent the wheel. Most of us want to focus on making a difference and let the results speak for themselves.