Key Considerations for Implementing Metrics

  • Published April 6, 2021
  • / By Sarah Clough

As advancement teams continuously seek to optimize resources, metrics/KPIs are bound to resurface as a hot topic. If you don’t currently have many – or any – metrics in place, you wonder if they’re the right driver for your team. If you already have them, you wonder if you are measuring the right things. No matter where you are starting from, there are several important factors to consider.

Define your objectives first. Know what you ultimately want your team to achieve through their activity. (Hint: It’s more than just “raise more money.”)

Measure what matters. If the metric does not ultimately lead you to a defined objective, don’t measure it! It is easy to slip into measuring everything but the kitchen sink just because you can. Discuss each newly considered metric to ensure it is truly worth tracking.

Assess your current culture regarding metrics/KPIs. If your team hasn’t historically included metrics in performance reviews or organizational reporting, consider how to effectively roll out this change in practice.

  • New metrics can be unnerving for those who have not been measured in this way before. Explain why this change is taking place. Metrics should illustrate how each team member contributes to the mission.
  • How you communicate change is important – and can make or break adoption. Emphasis should be placed on metrics helping everyone be even more effective and efficient at their work. Metrics are not meant to be punitive and this isn’t necessarily an indication they’re currently doing something “wrong.” It is about optimizing a finite amount of resources, whether that be time or money.
  • Utilize metrics to encourage positive behavior. Steer clear of metrics that will incite negativity in the workplace.
  • Good role models matter. Find advocates within your team who understand the importance of metrics and demonstrate the positive qualities that come from performance measurement. In addition, leadership must be able to demonstrate how their own metrics play a role in everyone’s success. Showing solidarity goes a long way–especially when you are entering new territory together–and helps create a culture of continuous improvement.

Transparency breeds confidence. Clear metrics and definitions of success put everyone on a more level playing field.

  • Ensure your team knows exactly how their activity is being measured and monitor progress throughout the year so no one is surprised at year-end.
  • Always be able to draw a direct line between each metric and how it meets a defined goal or objective–in communications about new metrics, in reports that track progress toward goals, in how you talk about team performance, etc.

Leverage the data that metrics monitoring supplies. The plethora of data that goes into and comes out of metrics reporting can provide several benefits: quantifying activity, demonstrating progress, identifying potential hang-ups, making the case for additional staffing, and more. Be keen to understand the story your data is telling you. And share that story with the team so they see themselves within it.

Relationships remain key. The focus of your team’s activity should remain on enhancing a prospect or donor’s relationship with the organization and maximizing the impact of their gifts. No metrics should get in the way of that. Throughout metrics implementation reiterate the common mission you are all working toward.

Quality metrics help your team focus on what is important and drive positive performance. While implementing metrics can be a daunting process, it is worth the time and effort if you approach the process purposefully.