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If You Can’t Count It … Does It Count?

July 19, 2021
Don Neal

Fair question, and I think the answer is no. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Every organization must have a scorecard, a standard of measurement, a set of metrics that determine if progress is being made, if individuals are performing, and if the enterprise is healthy.

And one of the least-measured activities within the non-profit sector is the portfolio of events that are so critically important to the financial future and reputation of the organization. Yes, post-evaluation surveys and budgets are used to gauge success and performance against a goal, but these are lagging indicators, largely unreliable, and seldom-acted-upon standards that must be re-evaluated as we enter 2022.

I’ve always loved the quip that being a non-profit is a tax status, not a business strategy. And a good strategy is one that pursues a clear set of goals and objectives that support the mission and the individual accomplishments of your team, and one that moves your organization forward.

Here are three steps to consider as you decide what to count, how you count it, and how to use what you learn to make your events work harder in the next 24 months:

  1. The first step is to recognize you are managing a portfolio of events, each of which can serve both an individual purpose and a greater role for your membership at large. Applying step #2 below, evaluate each of the six metrics for your portfolio and your individual events. Measure the sum and the parts.
  2. We have found, after measuring the success of hundreds of events, that there are six key metrics that are crucial to evaluate. The first is the reach of your event to the audiences you want to attract; this gives you a measure of market share. The retention of your audience over the last three events tells you how sticky your event is and helps build lifetime value. The relevance is the holy grail metric and is best measured by the net promoter score. Reputation is a key metric that has several standards you can use to gauge success, and net promoter works well as a baseline. The next two metrics are revenue and ROI, and are what every event host must maximize. We call these the 6Rs: Reach, Reputation, Relevance, Reputation, Revenue and ROI. Use this free scorecard to measure your last event and see how well you did.
  3. Align your goals to clear consequences for everyone you work with. Each of us is motivated by a sense of accomplishment, the achievement of a goal, and the recognition that comes from working hard in pursuit of a meaningful outcome. Everyone deserves to know how they did, and to be rewarded and/or held accountable with the appropriate consequence. If you don’t have clear goals, well-defined metrics, and a leader who holds you accountable, you should ask. If you’re the leader, your team expects you to set the bar and provide the support needed to succeed.

If you are driven by the pride that comes from setting a goal, determining what it takes to achieve it, and expecting recognition for it, ask for clear, specific, measurable, and time-bound objectives that allow you to align the time you invest with the return on your efforts.

If you work on events, use the 6Rs to establish your goals, measure where your events are now, and define what you expect by the end of 2022. Your audience and your organization are counting on you.