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9 elements of good measurement

by The NonProfit Times - April 11, 2013

Nonprofit organizations are more likely than ever to gather information, but not all of them are using the information they gather, or are not using it as well as they can.

In their book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine make the point that it is more important to evaluate impact than to gather and store numbers.

They offer nine themes concerning the value of measurement and getting the most out of it. They are:

  • “Likes” on Facebook is not a victory. Social change is a victory. Proper measurement keeps organizations focused on results rather than the tools they use.
  • Measurement helps nonprofits understand and improve their social networks. It helps them listen to and engage with constituents.
  • Measurement means data for decisions, not for data’s sake. It isn’t numbers to dump on the board’s desk.
  • Measurement makes an organization plan for success. Measurement leads to smarter investments and smarter use of those investments.
  • Good measurement is good governance. Credible evaluation reports and demonstrations of impact are crucial.
  • Data without insight is just trivia.
  • Measuring failure is part of the path to success. If an experiment bombs or a great idea isn’t really so great, learn from it, and learn why it happened.
  • Incremental success is no failure. Victories often come in baby steps.
  • Measurement is valuable at every level of functioning.


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