How to measure what matters in nonprofits

Typical metrics to track performance by nonprofits include dollars raised, membership growth, number of visitors, people served, and overhead costs. Though important, these rarely measure the real success of an organization in achieving its mission.

A study by McKinsey on 20 leading nonprofit organizations in the US, found several pragmatic approaches to quantifying success, even for nonprofit groups with highly ambitious and abstract goals. The exact metrics differ from organization to organization, but this thorny problem can be attacked systematically.

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