What marketing metrics should nonprofits measure?


  • Know your marketing goals – are you raising revenue? volunteers? Brand awareness?
  • Establish funnels – how does your audience reach the action stage to support your marketing goal?
  • Take broad measurements to understand what is working and what is not working
  • Measure specific metrics to understand how to optimize your funnel
  • Some measurement tools

Did you ever mark your height on a wall when you were a kid? Maybe you mark your kid’s height as they grow. This was something my parents did with me in our house for roughly a three year period whenever we remembered to do it. We never implemented a rigorous plan to ensure a consistent data set for future planning. We did it for fun. We got to see ourselves grow. We marked the passage of time which was bittersweet for my parents. It was an easy thing to do every once in a while that never required much effort. Put your back against the wall; mark the top of your head with a line.

Marketing Goals

Measuring your marketing efforts is not the same thing. Admittedly, there is some fun in it for us nerds. It does, however, take time, and when you’re growing your organization, time is precious. We might be tempted to measure everything, but that’s not necessarily the best use of your organization’s resources. What should you measure? Measure what supports your marketing goals. When you know your marketing goals, you should think about two things:

  1. What is the final action audiences take to support your marketing goal (make a donation? sign up to volunteer?)?
  2. What is the path audiences take to get to that final action?

Funnels/Customer journey

Below is the AIDA framework for the marketing funnel.

Graphic of right pointing arrows in various shades of gray and blue illustrating the AIDA model: attention, interest, decision and action.

Below is a specific, fictionalized example of a marketing funnel. In this example, the goal is revenue. Each piece of marketing ideally moves the audience a little bit closer to the brand – as well as the desired action.

An example of a marketing funnel with facebook and twitter logos on the far left. This is the attention stage. The logos have arrows  pointing to a computer graphic that says "landing page newsletter sign up". This is the interest stage. An arrow points from this graphic to an email graphic that says donate email. This is the decision stage. An arrow points to the right from this graphic to another computer graphic that says "Donation page". This is the action stage.

The steps in this graphic show important actions and opportunities for data collection that point to your success in reaching your goals. If we know this path, we can begin to understand what we should be measuring. Ideally, we can get as many people into the left side and move as many of them as possible to the action on the right side.

In this example, we want to start with measurement of the right side of the funnel. How many people are making donations? How many people are not making donations? We then follow the path backwards (to the left) to understand how to drive more people to that potential point of converting our goals.

Working back along this funnel, we could look at several metrics to demonstrate the effectiveness of our marketing efforts.

These metrics above show how many people arrive at that stage of the funnel and how many people move to the next stage.

These are some general metrics along the funnel that can help to understand the effectiveness of your funnel. Ideally, we want the second measurement to approach the first measurement. That demonstrates the effectiveness of the messaging leading into that stage, as well as the effectiveness of that stage to move the visitor onto the next stage.

The example listed is not necessarily your funnel. It should, however, highlight metrics to measure once you have your funnel(s) set up.

One caveat: the funnels we create are not the customer journey. The funnel is the most common and prescribed customer journey. As we develop competence with creating funnels, we should be aware that many customers take other routes to reaching our goals.

Below are several tools you can use to measure your marketing efforts at different stages of your marketing funnel.

Measurement Tools

  • Website analytics:
    • Google Analytics
    • Google Search console
    • Hotjar
  • Newsletter software:
    • Mailchimp
    • Constant Contact
  • Social Analytics:
    • Hootsuite
    • Sprout social
    • Hubspot
  • Paid social analytics:
    • Facebook analytics
    • Twitter analytics
  • Paid search analytics:
    • Google Adwords

Here is our marketing measurement template.

Stay tuned for an overwhelming list of marketing metrics you can track.