Measuring What Matters


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More than 80% of nonprofit leaders recently surveyed believe that demonstrating impact through performance measurement is a top priority. Yet for many, evaluation feels like a daunting task that takes up time and resources without providing much value.
If we agree with the importance of measurement, how do we improve our practice of it?
These are questions we often grapple with at Knight Foundation. Above, Knight's Vice President of Strategy and Assessment, Mayur Patel, shares a few simple exercises on how to use evaluation to deliver better programs and promote greater effectiveness within our organizations. Find out more at

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  • Good morning everyoneConversation about measuring what matters
  • What’s this all about – measurement?Why do it?Single reason: Helping you deliver greater benefits to the people you serve
  • People always end with bibliography – but these three books really important (draw a lot from them)Came out in last 2 years: Networked (open, transparent, decentralized, decision making = measuring relationships, engagement & social connectivityLean analytics = startups – how you build metrics to help you focus on core value, engagement usersLeap of reason = call to action – managing to outcomes
  • How you know you’re being successful? Because I know it in my gutWhat about measuring – doesn’t matter…
  • What we’re trying to create – Data-informed cultures –Not data-driven (based solely on cold hard data to make decisions – more responsive changing environment)Why coral? Why useful metaphor for this…. Keep that in the back of your mind when
  • Prioritization – want you to think about the one metric that matters in your organizationSingle thing – track so much … not easy I know….purposefully difficult to focusGet into fours this time and talk about: what it is & why? Ask them about it?
  • TIPS – to help you have this conversation….
  • Nearly 2.5m in prison; roughly 10 states spend more on prisons than higher educationWhat metric would you track?What metric do you think most prison run services track? % beds filledWhat should it track?
  • Diversity of plants and animals AcresWater supply systems (animals)Biodiversity health
  • Harlem Children’s Zone – pioneering nonprofit, community based organization – seems to help children and familiesStrong focus on education
  • This is what he said…Challenges with this…
  • Funder-nonprofit relationships (measurement)I’ll let you decide who you want to put in the chair and on the couch, and who is in need of more therapy?Funders want to help nonprofits do the right thing Joint responsibility – conversations about the work Secrets about how to make these conversations about measurement work betterDo’s and Don’ts – 5 simple points
  • What else would you add to this list?
  • Measuring What Matters

    1. 1. MEASURING WHATMATTERSMiami Philanthropy Conference2013@mayurhpatel
    2. 2. Getting to know eachother…Pair up: What’s your burning measurementquestion?Helping nonprofits deliver greaterbenefits to the people they servePhoto: By PeterPan23, via Wikimedia Commons
    3. 3. Source: to Start? Three Great GuidesThe slides that follow draw on concepts in these books
    4. 4. Photo: Tony3 via Flickr Creative CommonsGut + Data = InsightFrom Lean Analytics (Croll and Yoskowitz)
    5. 5. Data-Informed CulturePhoto:
    7. 7. TIPS – One Metric that Matters# If you collected this metric, how manypeople in your organization would care1. No one…………..5. everyone# To what extent would tracking this helpyou make better decisions1. Not at all………..5. A great deal# If you’re not collecting it, don’t panic
    8. 8. GOOD METRICS are:ComparableUnderstandableRatio or a rateChange your behavior** Most important
    9. 9. 4Case Studies
    10. 10. 1. PrisonsMetrics shape incentivesOccupancy rates vs RecidivismPhoto:
    11. 11. 2. The Nature ConservancyWhat you count might hide your impactAcres under Management vs BiodiversityPhoto: Nature’s Images @ Flickr Creative Commons
    12. 12. 1. Prison3. Harlem Children’s ZoneManaging the present for future impactLeading vs Lagging IndicatorsPhoto:
    13. 13. “The only benchmark of success is collegegraduation. That’s the only one: how manykids you get in college, how many you getout.”Geoffrey CanadaCity Limits
    14. 14. 4. Global GivingThe power of storytellingQualitative vs Quantiative InformationPhoto:
    15. 15. Managing Funder Relationships**Photo:* Funder or nonprofit
    16. 16. One final resourceSource:
    17. 17. Don’t overwhelm with dozens of metricsDo align your multiple fundersDon’t rely on “people touched”Do be realistic about scope of influenceDon’t allow qualitative data to be dismissedDo talk about your investment costs