Great social-sector organizations define their success by the distinct impact they are making and the effectiveness of the services they deliver relative to the resources at their disposal. Leaders of these organizations ensure success and improve on the success they achieve by gathering data through measures aligned with stated goals and outcomes. They carefully select only the best measures to improve operations and tell the organization’s story. When aligned with the ideal organizational culture, the measures contribute to the organization’s sustainability and enable it to attract additional funds and opportunities. Measurement data also shows if improvements are necessary, where they are needed, and whether customers and stakeholders are satisfied with the changes an organization implements.
In order to create impactful programs and communicate the impact to donors, social-sector organizations must create a strong measurement roadmap. Sometimes social-sector leaders are guilty of avoiding measurement because they believe their objectives are too vague or intangible to quantify. This can be especially true for organizations designed to educate and advocate for a particular topic. Leaders know the value of measures and metrics but often are unsure about what to measure to drive results.
A Variety of Measures
Organizations must use a variety of measures to tell their story. At a minimum, organizations should track data on participant demographics, services delivered, cost and revenues, participant and stakeholder feedback, and key outcomes. Before creating a measurement roadmap, leaders need to determine what they want to know and what they want to do with data collected through the selected measures. The first step is defining the purpose of your organization’s advocacy and communication activities by answering the following questions:
What contributions to the world are you hoping to achieve with your advocacy, campaign, or activities?
How do you know if you are making progress?
The next step is to create a measurable roadmap to your ultimate goal identified in the questioning process. You can do this by breaking your goals down into a series of concrete benchmarks called objectives. Objectives are different than goals in that they are more specific and have a shorter time frame. When you’re clear about what results you want to achieve in the short term, it becomes easier to assess whether your actions are leading to your long-term goals.
Objectives should directly address the program or societal goal you are pursuing. Always think in terms of your constituents, consumers, clients, etc. Avoid objectives that focus solely on you and your time, like developing a communications plan. Objectives should focus on the outcomes you want to achieve on the way to your goal.
Good objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Result-focused, and Time-specific. For example, an organization that desires to promote the health and wellness of the community by increasing those that use bike trails may set the following roadmap with SMART objectives.
By the end of the first quarter, we will have:
Conducted at least 10 meetings with local officials and businesses about the benefits of biking for businesses and the community.
Tripled the amount of people accessing our website or Facebook page that address the specific topics related to our goals.
Increased information and referral calls about the bike program by 5%.
By the end of the first year:
Five organizations will be actively participating in the bike program.
We will observe an increase of activities on the bike trails by at least 5%.
There will be a 5% increase in the number of people surveyed by our annual random telephone survey who report using the trails during the year.
Establishing smaller objectives on the road to your overall goal will help leaders know where the programs or activities are not doing what they intended them to do that would prevent them to reach their goal. For example, if the organization is unable to establish the initial meetings, it may be unlikely that they will get momentum in getting organizations signed up for the bike program. Leaders can quickly make changes to course correct, allowing faster achievement of ultimate goals.
SureImpact is proud to partner with mission-driven organizations to help you achieve your measurement goals. Our flexible data collection and reporting platform enables you to manage and report on the specific outcomes you want to achieve for your clients, your individual programs, and overall impact. By providing this data to funders and collaborators, you demonstrate the success of your measurement roadmap in implementing community-level change.
Contact us today to learn more.