Measuring Impact: Data for Nonprofit Excellence

How do you know what to measure — and how do you communicate that to your donors, your staff, and the people you serve?

Hack the Hood, a nonprofit I’m proud to work with, has a great approach that I think outlines some key issues:

  • They worked directly with the youth they serve to figure out what was important to them. Where did they want to grow and improve? These were integrated into an overall evaluation framework.
  • The output is digital, visual, easy to read and share. It’s something that can easily be shared with funders or people who want to get to know the organization better. It’s even shareable on social media.
  • They worked together with staff to come to consensus on an evaluation framework — and this is the most important — discussed it regularly. The evaluation framework is part of their regular staff meetings, and it helps staff understand how they are making progress towards the organization’s goals, and areas where they could put more effort in.
  • They used simple, reusable tools and good visualizations to make it easy to update the data. It’s not just a once a year, or one-off effort. It’s also flexible and extensible; as they learn more, they can change it.


The evaluation framework developed at Hack The Hood was a key part of a big funder win for the organization.  They won the Google Impact Grant, which was a game-changer that let them staff up — but the evaluation framework got Google to re-up and even increase their support 50%, something Google rarely does with this program.