5 Social Good KPIs to Look for

We’ve all heard the saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Harsh – but still, it’s not enough to want to do good. We must ensure that we’re actually making a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I feel certain that most people have good intentions! When deciding to donate you should begin by researching whether the organisation’s intentions are having positive impact.

Enter the Key Performance Indicator, or the KPI as it’s informally known. KPIs are those measurable outcomes that can tell you how well your goals are being met. This article is a great read on what KPIs are and why they’re important. But for now, I’d like to focus on KPIs that can be used for social good specifically. There are many different indicators that can tell you how well a social good project or organisation is performing, but these five are a good place to start:

1. Use of Funds
Let’s consider the ratio of overhead to programme expenses. Every organisation incurs overheads. However, if 90% of donations are being used to pay rent and utility bills, then very little money is being spent on social good programmes. Forbes cautions, “do not compare efficiency ratios for different kinds of charities.” After all, a charity fighting cancer will have very different overheads to one feeding the homeless. However, you should compare similar charities and determine which of them direct significant spending to charitable programmes. That’s often a good indicator of an efficient and accountable organisation.

2. Transparency and Accountability
Model organisations track and report not only on their project outcomes like people fed, projects completed or events held but also their impact, whether this is reducing carbon footprints or increasing literacy levels in developing countries. For example, Feeding America’s mission is to relieve domestic hunger. Their most recent Annual Report can show you how their projects resulted in them providing 4.3 billion meals to people in need in 2018. They have also built healthier communities across America and reduced the amount of food waste in landfills as part of their impact. Their reporting is timely, verifiable and easily accessible – all hallmarks of a transparent and accountable organisation.

3. Stakeholder satisfaction
Joanne Fritz, an expert on non-profits, notes that ‘stakeholders’ can refer to any individual or group that has an interest in your organisation, including employees, volunteers, beneficiaries, donors and the local community. The best social good organisations ensure that some – ideally all – of these groups are satisfied with their initiatives. Take note of the organisations that check in with their stakeholders regularly, whether it be through feedback forms, surveys or even through careful observance of participation and engagement rates.

4. Programme efficiency
Not all programmes are created equal. Consider this scenario: two charities collect $2 million for hurricane relief. Charity A uses the money to fund a programme that runs on budget and provides swift relief to those affected. Charity B also funds a programme but this one runs over budget and aid takes weeks to reach communities. Which is more efficient? Clearly it’s the charity that provided relief exactly when it was needed and within budget. That’s the organisation that most deserves your support.

5. Donor & Donation Growth
Nonprofit organisations often rely on donors to fund their work. Increasing donors and donations over time can be reliable indicators of a sustainable organisation whose donors are satisfied with its performance. An organisation that is losing donors, however, is likely to be falling short in other areas.

There are many groups and organisations that are working hard to make a difference in the world and they deserve your support. Hopefully, these indicators will better equip you to find the projects or organisations with the potential to do the most good or, even, build one of your own!

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