As a nonprofit organization, your goal is to make a difference. But how can you tell if you actually accomplish that goal? By measuring. That which can be measured can be managed. Just like large companies or small startups, nonprofit organizations (NPOs) need to have metrics in place to measure outcome—how far along you are in fulfilling your mission, how much you have helped the community and how effective you are at accomplishing goals.
By tracking metrics through self-assessments within your nonprofit organization, you can make consistent adjustments in order to further improve your results. What can your nonprofit take on, and how well is it accomplishing these goals? Let’s explore how to evaluate the size and capacity of your nonprofit.
Use a self-assessment tool.
First and foremost, look at your nonprofit from the inside out. Rather than starting your evaluation on what you do for others, consider how well your team functions. Conduct a self-assessment within your nonprofit to see the areas in which you thrive, which areas you fall short on, the size of your organization and how your capacity aligns with your mission. Self-assessments allow nonprofit boards and staff to identify areas for improvement.
Whether you prefer a distinct tool or something more general such as an organization-wide survey is your decision, but ensure that the responses are anonymous. This will generate the best return of results. Of course, once you conduct a self-assessment, then be sure to act on it. Board members and staff won’t want to respond to surveys if they don’t see any changes being made. If you recognize an area for need within your NPO, then meet that need. By establishing a sound internal structure, your nonprofit will have more capacity to meet its larger external mission.
Create your own self-assessment survey or check out some of these examples of tools:
Conduct a constituent survey.
The National Council of Nonprofits encourages “… nonprofits to embrace a culture that supports evaluating the difference your nonprofit is making.” Outside of your internal team, conducting an organizational survey among your constituents provides deeper insight into how the community perceives your efforts. Perhaps your staff feels like the NPO meets its mission goals, but constituents do not see the same results. Or, maybe constituents truly value the work your organization does, but your staff is stretched so thin members feel over capacitated.
Conduct a survey among your constituents by utilizing your email or direct mail marketing to ask for responses on how your organization accomplishes its goals. Constituent feedback provides great insight into evaluating the size and capacity of your nonprofit and the impact it has on the community. Then, use the feedback you receive to make valuable and necessary changes to any programs or practices you have in place.
Reevaluate your mission.
Along with evaluating the size and capacity of your nonprofit comes reevaluating your mission. How can you be sure to accomplish your goals if they aren’t clearly outlined in your mission? For example, the American Museum of Natural History is dedicated to “… discovering, interpreting and disseminating—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world and the universe.” Though this mission is a nice sentiment, how can the museum really know if it is successfully discovering or interpreting knowledge? The mission itself is not measurable.
Your mission statement should be clear, powerful and measurable. When you have a strong and distinct mission statement, it’s easier for your organization to continue to measure it in the future. Are you on track with achieving your mission? Goodwill’s mission is to “… strengthen communities, eliminate barriers to opportunity and help people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” All of these characteristics can clearly be outlined and measured as Goodwill tracks their metrics to focus on their mission. Be sure to reevaluate your mission statement to know where the NPO wants to go, and then track how to get there.
Track fundraising metrics.
Finally, what’s the greatest way to evaluate the size and capacity of your nonprofit organization? By tracking your fundraising metrics of course. When you can literally see the amount of money coming into the NPO and where it is distributed, you can see what your organization is strong at and where it might still need some work. Some aspects to consider in tracking your fundraising metrics include:
- Number of donors year over year.
- Donor retention rate.
- Fundraising return on investment (ROI).
- Number of gifts secured.
- Average (major) gift size.
Keeping careful and considerate metrics for your fundraising efforts allows your nonprofit to consistently track progress on meeting your goals in the community. This makes it easier to evaluate the size of your NPO, its capacity and the impact it has.
Your nonprofit is on a mission to make a difference. But that can’t be accomplished unless you measure where you have been and where you want to go. Evaluate the size and capacity of your nonprofit by trying out some of these tips and continue to grow your cause.