The Fives Stages of Measurement Acceptance | Beth's Blog

The Fives Stages of Measurement Acceptance


Infographics, if done well, can be a useful way to boil down key principles, ideas, or themes.   They’re gaining popularity everywhere, including the nonprofit sector.   More and more nonprofits are starting to use them and it isn’t difficult to find lots of examples and curate them.

KD Paine, my co-author of the Measuring the Networked Nonprofit (due out in later in 2012), pointed me to this gem of a measurement checklist in an infographic format.   I like the positive frame they put on measurement malaise and the hat tip to Kobler-Ross.

1.  Denial:  You can’t measure it

2.  Fear:  What if we find out our social media didn’t perform well

3.  Confusion:   I don’t know how to measure

4.  Promotion:  Check out these charts and graphs!

5.  Accountability:  Connecting measurement to decision-making and getting better results

Where do you sit along the spectrum?

13 Responses

  1. Jay Geneske says:

    I love this infographic. I’d like to say I sit in the “accountability” section, but the truth is that it’s more like a slippery slide through all categories depending on the minute..often second. (I hope I’m not alone..)

  2. Beth says:

    Jay, I hear you! That’s why I wanted to write the book.

  3. Karen says:

    Hi Beth,

    This question isn’t related to today’s blog but as I seek to be more consistent with posts this year, I’m wondering if you can suggest some of the best nonprofits that are using Twitter effectively. I’m guessing the larger ones may be good candidates but would love to know of smaller ones that may not have a large staff but still do it in a way that it makes it worth their time! Ours is a capacity building org so I don’t have any cute kids or dogs to talk about (except my own of course!). Thanks!

  4. Beth says:

    Karen: I’m thinking of a couple of capacity building organizations like Compasspoint and GEO that do a good job on Twitter.

  5. Greg says:

    I believe in measurement, but I’m also disturbed by absolute devotion to numbers. An anecdote: A couple of years ago, I was editing a (nonprofit) magazine’s blog written by an outside author. By any statistical measurement, it was hugely successful; the author was an engaging, passionate writer, the prototypical go-getter/connector/influencer who brought with her a good-sized audience. Her posts were provocative, pointed, and had a clear call to action.

    Unfortunately, it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that her facts were never, ever, ever, ever right.

    As editor, I could excise those absurd claims, leaving her opinion in the form of provocative, if unsubstantiated, calls to action. Those calls to action were frequently of dubious, and quite possibly negative, value.

    The numbers, throughout, were great. Anyone to whom I was accountable was thrilled. Despite that, it was wrong to publish it, and after several unsuccessful attempts to bring it up to standard, we let the author’s contract expire without renewal.

    I suppose my goal in this comment is to be the prickling conscience: Devotion to numbers can cause you to do well at the expense of doing good, and that’s something I think nonprofits ought to avoid.

  6. January is a good time for an annual report of web presence and activity. I plan to write one. Google analytics helps a lot with that, but facebook doesn’t support reports of periods longer than 89 days. Any recommendations to deal with that?

  7. Beth says:

    Greg: I agree with you so much! Numbers are important, but getting insight is also digging beneath the numbers and looking at what they mean. The only way to do that is to find the right numbers that help you gauge progress towards a goal. So, if the goal was to get as many people to read the article as possible – no matter the standard of journalism – then you’d be successful. But if your goal was to publish high quality articles that inform the readers and help them to do x – than numbers alone won’t gauge that progress. Your story is about finding the metric to match your goal – and being clear about that.

    It is also making me think of a report I read recently and that I will write about on Monday – that nonprofit, social change metrics come in two kinds – transactional and transformational. More about that later.

  8. Beth says:

    @ma’ayan – You can export the data from Insights into an spreadsheet. The option is on the upper right, it is glitchy for the new insights. You can still view your own insights data – the old format and export – but it stopped collecting on December 15th.

    There are several other tools that will collect Facebook data too – simplemeasured has some reports for Facebook that are free, but not sure if they go back a whole year. There’s also Allstats and edgerrank – not sure if the free versions give you a lot of history.

    A new year’s resolution should be: collect and review data monthly!

  9. Annaliese says:

    I love these stages — and think that Jay hit the nail on the head when he suggested that we all go through several of these stages every day. This list of stages may not be one of those ladders that you ascend and never come back down ;).

    One thing that I think is really important to improving the chances that you’ll stay at #5 is to be more strategic about identifying *what* to measure. You can avoid the problem Greg mentions if your goals include something more like ‘understanding of the issues increases’ rather than merely ‘re-tweets quadruple’ — so that you tie numbers to outcomes.

    We had a great article in our last issue of “NTEN:Change” about measuring for outcomes from Julie Macalik and Greenlights — you can read some of that here:

  10. Jill Persin says:

    Hi Beth – this is spot on! I would say I’m at stage 4 1/2, since in my little organization, I’ve not found any guidance for how to connect marketing and revenue generation. For those of us in smaller npos, marketing is like digital media – an afterthought performed on the fly, often by whatever staff displays a willing spirit.

  11. Jay Geneske says:

    Annaliese – You are absolutely about tying numbers to outcomes, rather than outputs, etc., even though it can be challenging to formulate.

  12. Jay Geneske says:

    Annaliese – You are absolutely right about tying numbers to outcomes, rather than outputs, etc., even though it can be challenging to formulate. Thanks for sending that link.

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