Pearls of wisdom on measuring the networked nonprofit

An unassuming woman is in my opinion, the single most influential person in learning how to make use of these tools. She’s nonprofit blogger, speaker and trainer Beth Kanter.

At every opportunity, I try to soak in as much of her knowledge and wisdom as possible. Kanter teamed up with Allison Fine to write The Networked Nonprofit that focused on how digital media could revolutionize how social profits work.

More recently, Kanter teamed up with measurement guru K.D. Paine to share how networked nonprofits can evaluate their success in Measuring the Networked Nonprofit. This book is an excellent resource for any nonprofit looking to enhance its evalution no matter how “networked” it may be because increasingly nonprofits are seizing the communications opportunities presented by digital media tools.medium_8301994195

As I explained in my last post on measuring the success of your nonprofit communications strategy, a benefit of digital media is the ability to measure it to evaluate your success. So I’m going to delve deeper into what that means by sharing some of the pearls of wisdom found in the Kanter/Paine book.

Social media is about more than fundraising

Not everything your organization does in social media will have a direct causal relationship to donations or earned revenue. Much of social media’s value lies in its ability to help you learn and improve, understand the attitudes and opinions of your stakeholders, and ultimately build relationships.

p. 60

Networked nonprofits use social media to initiate and nurture relationships with their audiences, thereby building networks of friends, clients, donors volunteers, and stakeholders of all types, incluuding other aligned organizations.

p. 174

Social fundraising is about increasing the size and strength of your network

… social fundraising’s value to a nonprofit isn’t measured only by funds raised. There can be great value in increasing the size and strength of your network. And there are other benefits of social fundraising, including increasing awareness of your cause, identifying new networks and partners and growing the lifelong value of your donors.

p. 100

Social media is about the long game

Geoff Livingston says:

the ‘ultimate success metric for the participating nonprofit goes beyond dollars or donors. Social fundraising metrics for success should  be the strength of community and return donors. …encouraging nonprofits to build better relationships. Then they they won’t just be good at social media and fundraising once…’

p. 110

Communications is about more than fundraising

…effective measurement always measure the progress toward the mission, not just the size of the bank account.

p. 110

Establish a benchmark

So whether you are measuring fundraising, new memberships or community engagement, you either need to benchmark against your own work over time or find another nonprofit to share data with to understand how good your numbers really are.

p. 113

Choose your metrics

Social fundraising can drive behavior in many forms beyond just donations, including increasing the size of your network, the sharing of information, subscriptions to your newsletter or RSS feed, web traffic, e-mail responses, attendance at event and trade shows, and votes, to name a few. All are relatively easy to measure once you have a tracking system in place.

p. 114

As I write, Beth Kanter is collecting samples of nonprofit dashboards to communicate what has been tracked.

Design your program to measure the contribution of specific tactics

Standard fundraising practice is to define a goal and associated metrics for an entire campaign and launch all aspects of the campaign at once. However, if you are going to measue the contribution of social fundraising, you need to be willing to roll out the campaign in phases and measure progress along the way.

p. 115

Somewhat along the lines of what my point that if all else remains the same you can deduce the effect of what is new. In both cases, it’s about isolating what you want to measure.

Read Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

Looking for more meat on how to measure the networked nonprofit including the measurement of relationships? I encourage you to get your hands on a copy of the book and read it cover to cover.

photo credit: jessiejacobson via photopin cc