The majority of nonprofit and government leaders agree that it is critical in today’s environment to have organizational metrics that measure and communicate the organization’s unique story.  Yet, knowing something and doing something are two different things.  Our Measurement Culture Survey project, which has assessed over 200 nonprofit and government organizations, reveals that only 25% to 33% of sector organizations are successfully embracing a high measurement culture that is leading to increased impact and excellence.

To me, this is a serious problem.  These findings suggest that the majority of organizations are struggling with how to best implement the right measures into their organizations that are likely to drive organizational outcomes. When leaders try to implement measures and find limited positive gains, this leads to increased frustration and ultimately abandoning or ignoring the practice because of the perception that it is just another management fad.

Before leaders decide to write off the practice of performance measures, they must understand the important link between organizational culture and measurement.  Excelling nonprofit and government organizations first examine their culture to ensure it aligns with high-performance measurement principles and incorporates appropriate outcome measures.

To break free from the status quo, leaders need to purposely and deliberately make the move toward a measurement culture.  Prior to implementing any measurement system, I urge all organizational leaders to assess the extent to which their organizations currently are embracing elements of a high measurement culture.  As they work on implementing measures, they should concurrently work on strengthening these elements of a successful culture.  Here are the top six elements to consider as leaders go through this process.

  1. Organizational decisions are based on a system of knowledge with standards of perceiving, believing, evaluating and acting that is influenced by objective data and information.
  2. Data and information are used to influence positive organizational behaviors that are consistent with organizational expectations.
  3. Measures are both driven and supported by leaders, and the values of selected measures are communicated and embraced at every level of the organization.
  4. Measurement systems unite staff and result in employees feeling a part of the organizational experience.
  5. Leaders have their pulse on both internal and external factors and continually refine and adapt to new and changing information.
  6. Measurement systems are used to help employees and stakeholders understand what has occurred and why it has occurred.

Contrary to a common perception among social sector leaders, many cultural changes require a minimal investment of money. Such changes do, however, require an abiding commitment to stand for excellence.  If you are a leader ready to jump into the 21st Century creating an organization with the highest impact and excellence possible, Measurement Resources is ready to help you! Check out our Quick Start Performance Measurement Program or Contact us today for your free 20 minute strategy session.

Want more information on how to increase funding, morale, positive press, and organizational impact? Join the Achieving Excellence Community and receive our free eBook, Ten Tips to Open Doors to More Grants (and Other Funding): Overcoming Common Mistakes of Outcomes Measurement.


Sheri Chaney Jones, President

Measurement Resources Company

July 2013