How can an organization know if it is really being effective? What are the measures of success? Is it how much money is in the checking account? Or how many members or customers it has?  How many dollars of sales? Profit margin?

What measurements should we really be looking at to know if we are being successful?  Which ones really matter? The measures above are important, to a point, but they only tell part of the story.  They don’t tell how well we are fulfilling our mission.

We recently had a meeting of the Society’s not-for-profit peer group, and key performance indicators were our discussion topic. It was an interesting discussion, but in the end we all had the same issue … how do you know what is really key to your organization? In the end, we agreed, that the best way to approach key performance indicators is to try to develop measures that help you determine if you have succeeded or not. Whether you use the indicators to look at a program or service or how well the organization is fulfilling its’ mission, the measure needs to be something that lets you know if you have been successful.

You could have fundraising event, like a silent auction, that may not raise a lot of money, but it brings a large number of people together who learn about your organization, and its mission. In the eyes of some people, the event could be seen as a failure, but to others, a success, because of the increased awareness for the organization.

What key performance indicators do you currently have for your firm or business? Have they changed or do you foresee them changing in the near future? Good luck developing measures of your organization’s success that meet your needs!

As you develop key performance indicators for your organization, please remember the following points: