Measurement Matters for Nonprofits

When we step on our bathroom scale we know where we are in our effort to lose weight, right?

Without the scale, how can we know if we’re winning or losing? The scale provides both measurement and accountability.

Incorporating measurement should be essential for every nonprofit.

Measurement brings clarity to how much of a difference an organization is truly making. And author Kim Jonker says, “Most nonprofits limp along, operating far below their potential impact.”

Jonker co-authored Engine of Impact with William F. Meehan III and they identified, “figuring out how to count what matters most,” is critical for nonprofits wanting maximize their success.

Measurement also means performance accountability. Good to Great author Jim Collins challenged nonprofits in the foreword for Engine of Impact, “Are you willing to demand performance, not just good intentions?”

Bill Gates has realized the importance of measurement for his philanthropic work. In his 2013 annual letter he wrote, “In the past year I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal.” He added that “measurement is too rarely done.”

Applying specific numbers to goals brings focus to selecting activities that will generate intended results. It also allows ongoing evaluation to ensure that you’re on track and to determine what adjustments may be needed.

Donors want impact. Volunteers want impact. Board members want impact. Employees want impact.

Measurement generates intentional impact and doesn’t your cause deserve that?

Don’t you think specificity for what your outcomes achieve is much more compelling than essentially saying “we do some good?”

Shouldn’t your organization be willing to hold itself accountable?

Every time I step on that scale the number I see either lets me celebrate or calls me out for not meeting my weight-loss expectation.


What are your organization’s outcome expectations and what measurement is needed to ensure you successfully reach your potential? Share your thoughts below. 

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