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Maggie Striz Calnin
Sustainability Professional
Asked a question 4 months ago

Are there other nonprofit professionals here who have had good results in developing a scorecard? I'm thinking our metrics will include a lot related to project progress (as well as revenue-related items).

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Hi Maggie,

I work with a couple of non-profits and this seems to come up every time. I recently shared the following note with a nonprofit with the same question:

On the matter of Scorecards for non-profits, I have a number of perspectives to offer. The power of the scorecard is in giving the leadership team insight into whether things are on plan or adjustments to activities are required - and knowing it with sufficient advance notice to be able to do something about it.  As a general strategy, that applies to any part of any kind of organization.  Once we have had a chance to teach and implement scorecards in non-profits that have not previously been managing their organizations on data, the revelation is significant.  The recognition that activities completed this week have an impact on outcomes next week, next month or next quarter gives organizations a great lens for prioritization and the importance of holding each other accountable as well as limiting the need for heroics later.  

I offer a few examples from other non-profit clients:

Most non-profit clients are very interested in monitoring access to resources, usually meaning donated or granted funds and volunteer participation.  We have found that donations are often cyclical in nature, coming with events, holidays, or natural calendar drivers so measuring cash in this week is often less important than having a weekly pulse on YTD donations versus last year or monthly progress against budget, or some other ratio like that. This gives the team a chance to adjust behavior, either putting more effort to finding funds or adjusting allocations.

Volunteer participation has been measured both as something after the fact (how many people did something) and as a number of commitments before they were needed (how many people said they were going to do that thing).  This gives the team a chance to better understand their coverage needs and then predict when they are going to be short. Often this can be prevented by tracking actions or steps earlier in the process, like Volunteers Contacted or Responses Collected.

Inbound requests or referrals for the service or support provided, by source, helps organizations know whether the effectiveness of their outreach is changing.  Like marketing attribution for commercial organizations, this can take some effort up-front to establish a method around, but the effort is likely to pay back significant dividends in long-term ability to make adjustments or fix problems early.

Board members are often an under-utilized resource that can be better activated with clear scorecard items, like donors contacted, commitments gathered or even just calls made. 

I hope that helps

Christine Watts
Head of Client Success & Product at Ninety.io

Great answer from @Jim Haviland43! Only thing I would add is less non-profit specific and more about looking at your Accountability Chart. By looking over each person's roles, you can think about "How will I know if they are succeeding or failing in any one of these roles" on their seat. Those ultimately become your Scorecard metrics.  

On our team we had everyone come up with at least 5 for their seat, brought them all to a meeting and then talked about which ones we thought were important enough to keep as our Scorecard. It's evolved over time but I still thought it was a good exercise to get started.