Why Is Measurement Crucial to Nonprofit Success? A Podcast Interview with Katie Paine

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In this podcast interview we speak with Katie Paine, an expert in data measurement, particularly for purposes of marketing. She is the author, with Beth Kanter, of Measuring the Networked Nonprofit. Katie is the founder of Paine Publishing, which (in her words) is “the first educational publishing firm entirely dedicated to making more Measurement Mavens.” She publishes the excellent Katie Paine’s Measurement Blog.

Katie’s message during this podcast interview is consistent and straightforward: nonprofits need to measure, and they need to measure what is important. She expands on these core beliefs in this wide-ranging and entertaining interview.

During the podcast, Katie mentions Survata, which is a useful tool for gathering information for making business decisions. She also mentioned the six steps for measurement, which she summarizes in a post here.

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About the Business:

Who are your clients or customers?

What core values drive your business?

Your work focuses on communications measurement. Do you work solely with nonprofits, or with a mix of nonprofits and for-profits?

What does your ideal client and engagement look like?

The Importance of Measurement

In your book with Beth Kanter, you write, “Good measurement is good governance.” [p. 9]. What does that mean to you?

Objections to Measurement

When I talk to my customers about gathering metrics, they can respond with a number of objections. I’d like to hear how you would respond to some of these.

Here’s one: “We don’t want to be evaluated based on something we can’t control. We can’t control whether someone engages with us, so why should be measure whether and how they engage with us?”

Here’s another. “Our results are too “soft” to permit measurement. We are talking addressing broad social change, and we can’t really measure our impact on that.”

I hear this one a lot. “It takes too much time to gather and analyze data.”

This is another perennial favorite: “We’re too busy changing the world (or meeting payroll) to spend time and money on measurement.”

How Get started with Measurement

What are the “must-measure” communications metrics for a nonprofit?

Do you advise nonprofits to measure a particular set of key performance metrics (KPIs)?

How would you advise a nonprofit to begin the measurement process?

Let me quote the book you wrote with Beth Kanter again: “Deciding what to measure is 90 percent of the process. Getting alignment, that is, getting everyone involved to agree on a project and its measures of success, is the hardest thing your organization will do.” [p. 53]. What does that mean to you?

How can a nonprofit avoid getting bogged down in data collection?

How can a nonprofit avoid the addition of more and more metrics?

How long does it take an organization to be able to see results from a measurement initiative?

How could a nonprofit get started with marketing metrics with no budget at all? (In response to this question, Katie mentions that nonprofits could once apply to use CyberAlert for free for a year. That program has been discontinued.)

What if I had $5000?

The importance of Failure:

Here’s another quote from your book: “Measuring failure is part of the path to success.” [p. 10]. Measuring performance takes time, and there setbacks and disappointments. How do you advise your readers and customers to deal with those failures?

Broader Question:

What’s something that you wish people knew about Katie Paine, but nobody asks?

Further Information:

Katie can be found at measurementqueen@gmail.com and on Twitter as @queenofmetrics. Her company, Paine Publishing, can be found at painepublishing.com.

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