In the mission-driven world of nonprofits, emphasis is usually placed on qualitative values rather than quantitative ones (the intangibles of human dignity, spirituality, education, or the arts, rather than revenue or market share). If the truly important things are qualitative, how can quantitative measures be meaningful to us? How can the real value of what we stand for be measured in any meaningful way?
Quantitative measures are not a substitute for qualitative goals. When developed and used thoughtfully, however, they are essential tools to assist in reaching them. As noted elsewhere in this series—Critical Issues #5: The Structure of Planning, and #7: On a Mission—a sequence of “how are we going to do that?” questions will lead you from mission to measurable actions. These will offer some important performance measures, but they are not the only bridge between mission and metrics.
For a look at why and how metrics are important to nonprofits, what to measure and how to make use of the data take a look at Critical Issues #8: The Measure of Success.