Published: 7 February 2013

Getting the measure of digital success

Justine C. Creative Commons

Deciding which metrics to capture around digital and social media comms is one thing. Knowing whether your results are any good is quite another.

Over time it’s possible to measure growth in your own charity’s digital effectiveness. But the moment when you say: “Ta da: we’ve achieved this!” is all too often followed by the question: “Is that good?”

One of CharityComms’ members, Sightsavers, came to us last year with this very problem. “How can we compare our digital activity to the rest of the charity sector?” Sightsavers asked us. So we got a bunch of forward-thinking and intrepid digital practitioners* together and, with the help of digital and social media strategist Bertie Bosredon, are rolling out the pilot of the CharityComms Digital Benchmark.

Our benchmark has two main objectives:

  • To allow individual charities to compare the metrics, facts and figures of their own digital activities with peer charities in the UK
  • To provide insights and ideas into how charities can develop their digital communications and fundraising work in the UK.

Identifying the metrics

To achieve these objectives, we've created a set of metrics that are meaningful, comparable and easy to measure (not many folk can carve out time from the day job to gather reams of data).

With the help of our early-adopting charities, we came up with six categories of metrics we think are most important to charities using digital and social media in their communications, fundraising and campaigning work, and created a set of metrics for each. The categories are:

  • General awareness/point of entry
  • Acquisition
  • Retention
  • Information provision
  • Services
  • Engagement

Opportunity to participate

Creating the CharityComms Digital Benchmark has been a two-phase, two-year project. Last year we established our basic metrics and developed a step-by-step implementation guide. Data collection started in July 2013, with quarterly updates and an annual white paper on the results. In 2014 we’re developing the Benchmark further based on the experience of our pilot group of participating charities.

Setting up the benchmark hasn't been an easy or simple process, but it has been truly collaborative. Working with the participating charities, we believe we've created something jolly useful.

Sharing information enables us to learn from one another and as a result helps to ensure that our investment brings greater return and ultimately generates more donations to help our beneficiaries.”

Victoria Ludlow, head of digital, Sightsavers

The CharityComms Digital Benchmark is aimed primarily at charities with a voluntary income of over £5m. Participation is £400+ vat for CharityComms organisational members, £1,000+vat for non-members. New participants can join on a quarterly basis.

If you’d like to be part of the Benchmark, or want more information on how it works, please let me know at vicky@charitycomms.org.uk

* Forty-one charities are currently signed up to the CharityComms Digital Benchmark. They are: ActionAid, Action for Blind People, Action for Children, Age UK, Anthony Nolan, Arthritis Research UK, Barnardo's, BHF, British Red Cross, Centrepoint, Children's Society, Concern Worldwide, Dogs Trust, Guide Dogs, Independent Age, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Marie Curie, Mencap, MS Society, National Autistic Society, National Deaf Children's Society, NSPCC, Parkinson’s UK, Plan UK, Practical Action, Prostate Cancer UK, RNIB, RSPCA, Samaritans, Scope, Scout Association, Shelter, Sightsavers, Sue Ryder, Sustrans, Teach First, vInspired, World Animal Protection, WWF and Youth Music

Vicky Browning, director, CharityComms

A former magazine journalist, editor and publisher, Vicky has headed up the CharityComms team since March 2010. She is passionate about CharityComms' vision of putting effective and inspiring communications at the heart of every charity's work for a better world.