Measure your Mission: #BeyondVanityMetrics

This guest post by Jackie Mahendra, Director of Strategic Collaboration at Citizen Engagement Laboratory, first appeared on Medium.


How do you know if your work is working?

Do your metrics just sound impressive or do they really inform your campaigns?

Do your metrics just sound impressive or do they really inform your campaigns?
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For those of us at mission-driven organizations, this is a critical question and one that is much harder to answer than it may appear. What we should measure and why is a question that leaders in the digital campaigning sector are currently struggling to answer. It turns out that understanding whether a strategy is actually moving you closer to your mission requires a lot more than counting the easiest-to-track numbers, or “vanity metrics” like pageviews or list size.

Let’s say you work at a large women’s rights group. An advocacy email goes out to hundreds of thousands of women’s rights supporters, and moments later, you can see how many people are opening it, clicking through to take action, or even opting out of membership. Sounds good! Not so fast.

Unfortunately, some of the most common measures online campaigning practitioners track tell us surprisingly little about whether we’re truly engaging the people we care most about over time. For organizations that are committed to regularly engaging large numbers of everyday people, that is a major problem.

“If what we measure grows, are we growing the right things?”

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