Help! How Do I Measure Impact?

What resources do you have on measuring impact and/or program evaluation?

Great question! In the last decade, the ability of nonprofits to measure impact and communicate it regularly and effectively has shifted from a “neat idea” to an “absolute must.”

Unfortunately, impact measurement is all too often overlooked by nonprofits working to launch or grow an individual giving program. The great news is you can start measuring impact today.

Recognizing how stressful this type of conversation can be (especially if you are a new hire or working with colleagues already carrying an oversized workload), it is essential that you present impact measurement as an exciting opportunity to attract new donors and strengthen engagement to retain or upgrade existing donors. This is not an agenda item on your monthly staff meeting or appropriate for an “all hands” approach – I recommend meeting with each program director 1 on 1.

The goal of each meeting is to establish 3 to 5 metrics to utilize for impact measurement over the next 12 months. Be realistic and set expectations. For most programs, a semi-annual or quarterly update from each director is more than enough to effectively inform your audience.

If you are already measuring, but the size and/or complexity of your programs requires something more sophisticated, there are several free resources and paid tools available to help.

Three of my favorites:

Good luck. When you get started measuring impact, write back and let me know how it’s going!

Ask a Fundraising Coach is Network for Good’s weekly advice column, where Personal Fundraising Coach Andrea Holthouser tackles your toughest challenges in the world of fundraising, nonprofit management, donor relations, and more.

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