5 mistakes charities make when measuring digital

In the run up to my charity metrics meet up at Google Campus on 25 July, I asked participants to fill in a survey about how they measure their online effectiveness. This includes their social media, website, email marketing, and more.

While many use the excellent Google Analytics, the other online tools vary widely. The popularity of the event at Google Campus next month suggests that many charities are open to better measuring their online effectiveness.

From my experience, here are the top five mistakes charities make when measuring their digital marketing.

1. Not knowing why you’re measuring

Unless you have a goal in mind, there’s no real point in counting retweets or Facebooks likes. Do you want to get more people along to your information evenings for volunteers, or more online donations? There are simple ways of measuring both and driving activity towards goals like these.

Solution – before measuring anything, decide the top four things you want to increase at your charity. These are your goals.

2. Not knowing how to measure

With the mind-boggling variety of platforms to measure, and associated jargon like conversions, advanced segments and bounce rate, it’s no wonder there is sometimes a skills gap when it comes to measurement. Luckily, it isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Solution –  look for some good training, or learn from peers

3. Measuring too much

There are literally hundreds of metrics that you could spend weeks laying out in colour coded Excel spreadsheets and gleefully present to blank-faced trustees. But what would be the point of that? Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean you should (or more importantly, that it achieves your charity’s social goals).

Solution – again, identify four (yes, just four) things you want to measure, and focus on them.

4. Not measuring enough

This mistake goes hand in hand with measuring the wrong things, and not knowing how to measure. Measuring something like how many online donations you got last month compared to the month before isn’t just good fundraising or effective measurement – it can boost team spirit by rallying your whole team around a common goal.

Solution – one more time: decide the top four things you want to measure. Make it activity that your team can really get behind.

5. Only measuring

Apply the “So what?” test applied to every metric. Knowing that 20% more people viewed your volunteer page this month is a meaningless on its own. What caused the increase? Can you do more of it?

Beth Kanter’s book “Measuring the Networked Non-Profit”  is excellent for this. Beth suggests Metrics Mondays (with metrics muffins), whereby your team pours through the latest metrics, asks “So what?” and uses the data to drive internal change.

Solution – ask “So what?” about every metric. Find the reason and change something.

Find how and why to improve your charity’s metrics, and grab one of the few remaining tickets for our event at Google Campus on 25 July – see you there!


  1. Google Analytics and charity metrics event | Charity Chap - 07/29/2013

    […] opened with a short presentation on the five mistakes charities make when measuring digital, before getting attendees to share their expertise with each other (always the best way to […]

Leave a Reply

Metrics Powered by KissHerder by GrasshopperHerder.com