Nonprofit Performance Measurement 4 Mistakes to Avoid

In a recent blog post at Grantspace, Liana Downey highlights four pitfalls to avoid when developing performance measurements for a nonprofit organization.

These pitfalls can derail your efforts to measure the right data – the information that will help you construct the most compelling case of the impact your nonprofit is having on constituents and the community.

4 Performance Measurement MistakesNonprofit Performance Measurement 4 Mistakes:

  1. Measuring too much
  2. Underutilizing what you have today
  3. Over-thinking it
  4. Poor presentation


As Downey points out, measuring too much is a common reaction. We start listing all the things we can measure, which suggest more things that we could measure, and suddenly there are dozens and dozens of metrics on our list. While it might be a useful exercise to understand the complete picture, at some point it’s necessary to rank and prioritize what will be measured.

Keep in mind, the best performance measurement is not based on how many metrics are used to illustrate performance, but rather selecting the right metrics to show the impact.

Your fundraising team might have favorite metrics they use when speaking with donors. These measurements help to tell the story of how giving furthers the mission or the ways in which its helped constituents, for example. The metrics serve to punctuate the story. Your program managers likely have particular metrics they track to manage the program efficiently and effectively. These metrics are not only useful in day-to-day management, but also in seeking additional grants. Better performance measurement might simply be a a few additional metrics – rather than a whole new slate of metrics.

The litmus test of performances measures comes back the organization narrative. Do the audiences you wish to influence see the measures as testament to your impact?

Additional resource – download the free white paper ‘Outcome Metrics: Measuring What Matters in the Nonprofit World