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When efforts or ideas get too big for our brains, we tend to react by shutting them down. A lot of times that’s what happens when it comes to data. Sometimes even the best intentions can get derailed by too much “big picture” thinking.

The solution: You have to whittle it down.

Once you’ve identified your organization’s strategic goal (whether that’s reducing the incidence rate of a disease by a certain percentage point or bringing in 20,000 new donors), your key metrics for measuring progress, and your baselines and benchmarks for comparison, it’s time to start setting some short-term goals.

Short-term goals will help ensure you are progressing in the right direction to meet your strategic goal.

Some examples of short-term goals to measure progress include:

  • If your goal is to acquire 20,000 new donors over the course of two years, one of your short-term goals could be to acquire 75% of those donors during the end-of-year time frame for this year and next year.
  • If your goal is more short-term—for example, if you have a quarterly goal—you need to set your targets weekly or biweekly and measure your progress towards those targets.

Schedule Regular Reporting to Increase Accountability.

Once you have defined your short-term goals, it’s time to focus on logistics. Figure out how often you need to report on your metrics, which tools you need to use to visualize this report, and who needs to see it.

The best way to make sure your metrics are not just numbers on a page is to embed them in performance objectives. Hold your team accountable for achieving these goals. Embed it, then stick to your schedule.

Use your metrics and reporting to determine:

  • Are you meeting your goals?
  • If yes, should you be pushing for more?
  • If no, do you have a handle on why? Are you measuring the wrong thing?

What If You Don’t Have All the Data Needed to Measure Success?

This is a challenge organizations run into frequently. For example, let’s talk about our goal of acquiring 20,000 new donors over the next 2 years. What if we don’t know how to identify who those new donors are?

This is where you can engage your IT team to create a way to differentiate your new donors from your existing donors in the system. At Pursuant, we have some matching logic that can be deployed on historical data to identify the new donors coming into your file.

There are resources available. Sometimes you just have to find the right people—either within your organization or outside of it—to make sure you have the data you need to measure progress effectively.

Download our free resource “The Field Guide for Data-Driven Fundraising” to learn more tips for using data and analytics to advance your organization’s mission.