As nonprofits, measuring the success of your organization can often be tricky. If your mission is “Improving lives”, what metrics can you use to show that? We’d like to help. We’ve created a framework that you can use to evaluate your nonprofit more effectively. Follow along with me below and by the end we’ll have developed metrics, targets and much more that will allow you to show the success and growth of your nonprofit.

To get started, we’ll use a fictional nonprofit called Nonprofit X or NPX, for short.

1. Everything starts with the organizational mission. Once we know that, we can investigate the strategies and tactics needed to execute that mission or business objective. All along the way, we’ll define pieces of data that help up measure the performance.  For our fake nonprofit, NPX, our mission will be to “Improve the lives of those that are in need of stable, safe housing.” Knowing our mission is important because that’s what we’ll measure and how we’ll define success for our strategies and other tactics. In the case of NPX, our measure of success is improved lives. Although that metric doesn’t exist in any tool, we can use it to define strategies that accomplish it.

2. Identify strategies to accomplish your mission. We can identify strategies by interviewing people at the top: board members, executives, etc. For NPX, we have three primary strategies: fund homebuilding projects by generating donations, coordinate volunteers to build houses and raise awareness of our cause. Once your team works together to outline strategies, your next step is to outline tactics.

3. Outline tactics to execute your strategies. Nonprofits can have one or more tactics to achieve each strategy. Strategies don’t often change over time, but the methods or tactics we use to implement those strategies do. To keep things simple, we’ll keep all of of our NPX tactics web-based. NPX’s tactics include collecting donations via a website, recruiting volunteers via a website and educating the public about the lack of housing via an informational website.  With our tactics ready, we’ve now reached the good part.

4. Measure tactics with key performance indicators (KPIs). Each KPI should measure the performance for our tactics. Creating KPIs can be a bit tricky, since you have to understand how to measure your top line strategy (mission, etc), but also what you’re capable of tracking with your tools. You don’t need several KPIs for each tactic, maybe 3 to 5 for each. For our NPX tactic of collecting online donations, we’ll want to look at metrics like revenue and average donation size. With recruiting volunteers, our KPIs will be the number of volunteers and number of searches for volunteer activities. We’ll measure our success in educating the public with how many people submit a letter to congress on our behalf and watch our informational video.

5. Identify segments to understand changes in your KPIs. Segmentation, which is the foundation of all analysis, helps us understand why our KPIs move up, down or stay the same.
  • For our donation strategy, we’ll want to split revenue by marketing activity that generated the revenue so we can calculate ROI. We’ll also want to segment donation based on donation type and identify repeat donors.
  • Segmenting the volunteer KPIs is similar. We’ll want to see how different marketing campaigns perform, differentiate repeat volunteers from first-time volunteers and segment based on geographic location (as NPX volunteer opportunities are geographically based).
  • Next is cause awareness. We’ll start by segmenting by traffic source, visitor type and content type. We want to know what sources brought in our users, so we can spend money and time around those in the future and be able to see how people are engaging on our site.
Now that we have segments, it’s time to add some context to the data in the form of targets.

6. Add context to your segments and KPIs with context. Targets are how almost every business evaluates performance. Organizations, at the beginning of the year, often lay out where they want to be every month or quarter. Then as the year proceeds you can compare where you’re at with where you need to be. You can also account for upcoming activities when determining if you will, or will not, make your targets.

Now that we’ve created our measurement strategy, we’ll need a way to get our measurements. So next up, we’ll show you have to translate this plan into a Google Analytics implementation. If you’d like to kickstart learning about Google Analytics, check out our guide and video tutorial designed specifically for nonprofits.

*The original framework was created by fellow Googler Avinash Kaushik.

Posted by Justin Cutroni, Google Analytics team