Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Culture of Measurement

Today's posting on Inside Philanthropy is about how critical it is to track nonprofit performance. Of course, we all already know that, right? But it's not always as easy as it sounds.

Depending on your organization, our goals are often very long-term, and our resources to follow-up are limited. So, many nonprofits fall into the trap of counting outputs instead of outcomes. The posting quotes Jason Saul of Mission Measurement:
Rather than simply counting the output of their programs or the number of clients they serve, Saul says, nonprofits should be measuring the outcomes or impact of those programs.
Saul recommends that organizations' create a "success equation." This involves asking, "what measurable items would indicate progress towards your mission." But, again, focusing on results, not process.

One pitfall that I've found organizations falling into is that there is one staff person tasked with evaluation, and the majority of the staff viewing that person as an annoyance distracting them from doing the "real work" of direct service. Saul address this as well, and talks about how all staff have to hold a piece of the evaluation puzzle:
“Measurement is a culture, not a project,” Saul says, and nonprofits should work on measurement within their existing business processes, keep it simple at first, and make it positive, not punitive.
I like that idea, of a culture of measurement. An organization that I'm currently working with definitely fits that ideal. It would be great if they all did.

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