February 29, 2012

How to set up a metrics program

Image by Stuart Miles on BigStockPhoto.com

8 steps to help you become a data-driven organization

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause organizations, brands, businesses, start-ups, Web publishers, educators, bloggers.

JD LasicaOver the past two years, I’ve been spending an increasing amount of my time helping nonprofit and business clients set up metrics programs.

For mid-size and large organizations, their social media teams often work with outside vendors that help take the pulse of their communities and help inform their decision-making. (Here’s a list of our top 10 paid social media monitoring services for nonprofits and top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business.)

If you’re like the vast majority of nonprofits and cause organizations, however, you handle your metrics internally. Right?

So this might be of interest: I’ve just begun giving a series of 90-minute webinars for CharityHowTo called Metrics Don’t Bite!: Energize Your Nonprofit With a Meaningful Metrics Program. Sign up for the next installment tomorrow at 3 pm ET, noon PT.

Why measure? To help inform decision-making about your brand or cause. To test messages, services, campaigns or products before launch. To do market research into constituents or supporters. To gather data about supporters’ giving habits. To find out what kinds of blog posts and Facebook status updates resonate with your community.

8 steps to set up your own metrics program

We’ll cover a lot of ground in the webinar, but I wanted to share these eight steps involved in setting up a metrics program:

1Get buy-in at the top. For any metrics program to work, it needs support from top management if the program is to gain traction across the organization.

2Identify a Chief Metrics Guru. It could be you, or somebody else comfortable with not just gathering numbers but exploring what they mean. Your colleagues will watch you evolve from Chief Metrics Guru to Number-Crunching Superstar. You may need a small team to help you out as part of their other responsibilities.

3Set goals. Here’s the most difficult part of any metrics program: Interview stakeholders across different departments to elicit and identify key goals and target audiences. Get beyond that set of departmental goals that were put in a bottom drawer nine months ago.

4Tie these goals to specific Key Performance Indicators you can track by creating an internal document. A KPI is simply a set of metrics that enables you to determine over time if you’re on course to hitting your targets. Continue reading