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Measuring What Matters

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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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