Evaluating and Measuring Success

May 31, 2012 Trends and Society

Where Are Your Measureable Markers?

Success is a positive outcome to a project. Establishing measurable criteria for a project is essential to knowing if it is successful.

While working with a large Canadian charity, a Toronto based group of fundraisers was charged with hosting a successful fundraising event. Naturally, the success of this type of event is determined by the amount of money that is raised and establishing intermediate markers along the way helped the group know if they were on track.

The event was for teams of eight people from local businesses, to raise money through pledges. The fundraising goal was $20,000. Based on previous experience, teams raise approximately $2,000 or $250 per person. That means ten teams would have to register for this upcoming event. Teams that register with less than two weeks to collect pledges usually only raise $1000 in funds. Teams with more than six weeks, typically raise over $3000.

To cultivate interest the fundraising group came up with a unique approach: they would go to local businesses and drop off an irresistible invitation. The idea, invitation and concept were unique and the group was expecting a great outcome. The plan was outlined, the invitations printed and the drop-off was set. As expected, the advertising technique was well received and many business cards were collected. The goal was ten teams, so thirty companies were approached nine weeks before the event. As the date of the event crept closer, no one had registered. Despite the early enthusiasm, by week five, no one showed interest in participating in the event. The critical decision had to be made. They would need three teams to register for the next three weeks to ensure the fundraising goal would be achieved. Since there was no one showing interest, the group had to decide if they should approach more people, or cancel the event.

The idea was brilliant, the team was hard-working and enthusiastic, but the measureable criteria, in this case the number of teams, did not meet the target. In fact, this much effort spent on previous events had raised $30,000 – a much better return on investment. This new approach was not successful and needed to be replaced. Not wanting to waste any more time, the group took immediate action using a tried and tested approach and met their goal.

When you are establishing goals and drafting the plans that will take you there, it is important to set measurable markers along the way. This will mitigate surprises and allow you to adjust your strategy to ensure the end goal is met. Start by identifying the goal and move backwards through the dates and action items. Then you will know day by day and week by week if you are on track. Do not wait until the project is over to realize it was not successful, and don’t assume just something seems like a good idea that it is the best way to achieve the goal.

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