Metrics your nonprofit should be tracking and why

Understanding what metrics to track can be daunting, especially for those without a background in analytics. But for nonprofits, it’s important to track these key indicators of success and growth. 

Wondering why you should bother? Let’s jump into it. 

What ARE metrics – and why track them?

Metrics are the numbers that make up your nonprofit’s day-to-day: likes, clicks, shares, opens, donors, website visits, etc. Keeping careful records of these numbers doesn’t just help identify areas for improvement, it also makes it easier to communicate your impact to stakeholders and supporters. 

It’s also important in deciding where to allocate resources to best make a difference in your cause. It can help you to understand who you’re reaching and who you’re NOT reaching. And having concrete numbers allows your nonprofit organization to go further with confidence. 

What metrics nonprofits need to track

One crucial metric is donations. Without them, nonprofits can’t fulfill their mission. Monitoring social media presence and email engagement are also important, as both are powerful tools for outreach and engagement. Also, website traffic, because it reflects on how many people are engaged and interested in learning more about and getting involved with the organization’s work. 

Other metrics to consider tracking, depending on their relevance to your organization: volunteer engagement, event attendance and measures of community outreach.

Tips to strategically measure and analyze data

The ability to measure and analyze data presents a competitive edge in the nonprofit world. How do we know? According to one stat, only 5% of the 90% who collect data actually use it in decision-making. (Yikes.)

To get started with analysis, you almost have to work backwards. It’s essential that you have clear and specific goals. Then, once you identify them, you can choose the appropriate metrics to measure. 

Keep in mind, too, that directly downloading or neatly compiling analytics is essential to understanding them. Another helpful strategy – especially for the more creatively inclined members of your team – is to use tools like charts and graphs. This can help reveal patterns and insights that might not have been obvious in a spreadsheet. 

Lastly, keep in mind that analyzing data is an ongoing process. Do what works; ditch what doesn’t. 

The importance of transparency and authenticity – and how metrics help accomplish this

Corporate social responsibility is quickly becoming an expectation in the for-profit world. For a nonprofit organization, transparency has always been – and will always be – non-negotiable for building trust with supporters, stakeholders and the wider community. 

Nonprofits must share their goals, successes and challenges. And by measuring and reporting their results, nonprofits 

  • build trust by providing data-driven evidence of their impact, 
  • demonstrate accountability and commitment to their mission, 
  • help stakeholders understand the organization’s progress and how it aligns with their values. 

Plus, nonprofits that are open and genuine in their communications are more likely to attract and retain supporters who believe in their mission. Honesty really is the best policy!

Best practices for nonprofits collecting data to ensure accuracy

Working backwards again, in order to make metrics work for you, start by defining objectives and identifying what data is necessary to achieve them. Then, create a system for collecting data that is standardized and easily accessible for analysis. 

It’s crucial to ensure that data is consistent and without errors, so establish protocols for quality control and data entry. Our advice? Have someone trustworthy in your organization assess the data before it’s ever presented externally. 

Regularly reviewing and updating your data collection methods will also help to ensure that changes in your organization or the community you serve are reflected.

What to do if your nonprofit isn’t meeting its goals – pivoting strategies with data in mind

It’s always disheartening to realize you’re not meeting your goals. But keep in mind: you DON’T need to give up on your mission altogether. Rather, take it as an opportunity to pivot your strategies and try new approaches. 

The key to making informed decisions about how to pivot is a solid understanding of your data. Take a close look at your organization’s numbers. Read over your KPIs. Identify areas of strength and weakness. (And depending on what you find, don’t be afraid to your reassess goals!)

From there, brainstorm new strategies that are rooted in data and have a greater chance of success. Remember, pivoting isn’t a sign of failure; it’s a sign of adaptability and determination. 

Metrics and analytics can seem complex, but it’s worth putting the time and effort into tracking them. And that’s a part of the services we offer as a storytelling-focused, nonprofit-loving marketing agency. Find out more of what we do at