Three Metrics Design Tips

Here's another in a short series on metrics, in preparation for my presentation on metrics at WVDO's Regional Conference on February 26.  (Catch the first installment, on Metrics and Workplace Culture here.) When creating metrics for your shop, here are three things to keep in mind:

1) What are you trying to measure?  First, determine what behavior you are trying to monitor/encourage.  A good start is overall giving to your organization.  And, take a step backwards from that -- why are you trying to increase giving?  Because of the impact your organization has on the world, whatever that may be.  Looking at metrics through the lens of Daniel Pink's Drive, it's important to ensure that you don't let the extrinsic motivation of metrics replace the intrinsic motivation of doing good.  So don't forget the big goal, the one that's bigger than dollars raised.

2) Identify leading indicators.  A leading indicator is something that happens before the behavior that you are monitoring.  If you are trying to grow giving to your organization, then some leading indicators might include number of major gift asks, number of major gift prospect visits, foundation proposals submitted, bequest donors identified, number of new donors acquired, donor renewal rates, etc.  Lagging indicators might include dollars raised or number of receipts sent -- important, but not what's going to give you an early indicator of success or the need to adjust strategy.

3) Make sure definitions are clear.  The more metrics are open to interpretation, the more difficult recording and meaningfully reporting on them will be.  I have seen this happen when shops try to measure major gift visits that are "significant" or a "move".  I recommend creating metrics that are very clear and difficult to misinterpret, but if you do seek a more nuanced approach, make sure that definitions are very clear and become part of your culture through frequent discussion and thorough documentation.

Amanda Jarman1 Comment