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E30: Making Sure You Are Measuring What Matters

by Sean Boyce

Learn from the CEO of Philabundance Loree Jones Brown how to evaluate whether or not you are measuring what matters.

What I talk about in this episode:
  • Measuring impact vs output
  • A great example from CEO of Philabundance Loree Jones Brown
  • The difference between measuring tea bags and potatoes
  • Focusing on what really matters
  • How to know whether or not you’re really measuring impact
If you’d like to learn how to scale impact at your nonprofit by more than double in less than half the time, sign up for my free 5 day email course – https://nxtstep.io/impact/

Episode Transcript

Hey everyone, Sean here and today what I want to talk to you about is are you measuring what matters now when I say that what I mean is, are you actually measuring impact? Or are you measuring something more closely related to output? 

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Now I was at an event last night, which was a panel and on it hosted Loree Jones Brown who is the CEO of a nonprofit organization called Philabundance and one of the questions I was asked was related to this topic, and it was, essentially how to make sure you’re measuring what matters and Loree gave what I think is an excellent answer on the topic and I’ll paraphrase for you, but she gave an example in terms of what their organization does, which is works diligently to try to cure the hunger challenges facing the world over especially from underrepresented populations. They’ve done incredible work as they’ve grown. They’re local to my area in terms of their headquarters, which is in the Philadelphia area that they serve over 135,000 people per week, and they moved more than 52 million pounds of food in the year 2021, which is just remarkable. That’s so impressive in terms of the results that she phrased her answer related to measuring in relation to weight. As in when she was talking with one of her directors about this problem in particular in terms of what are they measuring what’s important. They were on the topic of the weight between the different things that they might measure that they could provide, you know, a lot more tea bags was the example she gave, as opposed to potatoes or canned vegetables, because canned vegetables and potatoes are a lot heavier. If we’re focusing on the weight of the products, then that is there’s a disparity there. Right as in, we can reach a heavier weight with less potatoes or canned vegetables, then we can with other food products, which might be lighter, but we can ship more of those so to speak. 

So when she talked about this, she really underscored the fact that if you’re not focused on the right metric here, it can blur the lines between measuring output and versus measuring impact. Right. So she really highlighted and underscored the importance of making sure that you are measuring impact and relative to how it is impacting and affecting your clients or the beneficiaries of your program and that’s what I want to kind of leave you with is to make sure you’re always measuring the impact but make sure you’re measuring it through the lens of your client and what matters most to them. Because that’s ultimately what your mission is right? So if you’re measuring something somewhat unrelated, or indirectly related to what ultimately matters most to them, then you’re probably not measuring the right thing. You’re probably not measuring impact. At least you’re not measuring it as best as you could. Right. 

So try to refocus and reshape that conversation like Loree did. Around well wait a minute. We shouldn’t be as concerned so much, so about the differences in weight of different types of food products. What we should really should be focused on is are we curing or solving hunger? And if so, for how many families and how many people? Right? That’s much closer to ultimately what their organization wants to measure because that’s what their mission is.