Corporate Social Responsibility

SMART Metrics for Nonprofits

Measuring outcomes is the only way to reliably report success

Cisco gives the highest priority and funding consideration to proposals that clearly articulate the planned impact of their efforts, and the metrics by which that impact will be measured. We look for organizations using SMART Metrics:specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely.

What Are SMART Metrics?

  • Specific: Specific metrics are clear and well-defined. Both the grantee and the grantor know what is expected and the grantor is able to monitor and assess actual performance against specificmetrics.
  • Measurable: Progress toward metrics is monitored while work is underway. A measurable metric, tracked by the nonprofit shows when work has been done and a metric is achieved.
  • Achievable: Achievable metrics ensure that everything is in place to meet the metric. If the grantee does not reach their goals they need to be able to explain why.
  • Realistic: Metrics should be realistic. A metric may have a dependency such as particular skills, access to resources (computers, tools, etc.), or access to key people and management support. Realistic metrics take these dependencies into account.
  • Timely: Descriptions of metrics should include timelines, showing what is required, when. This may include details of delivery, stating (if relevant) where metrics are to be completed. Giving a time line adds appropriate sense of urgency and ensures that the metrics do not dribble out over an unreasonably long period.

Examples of SMART Metrics

  • In Year 1 we will serve at least 1,700 children and youth; 500 in Renaissance Village, and 1,200 in four elementary/middle schools.
  • In 2006-07, the number of Hispanic students participating rose to 5592, an increase of 61%. The target for 2007-08 is 7500 Hispanic students or an additional gain of 34%.
  • Staff to client ratio improves from 1:35 to 1:50, with a stretch goal of 1:70 by the end of 2009.
  • Reach 460 schools and 84,000 students in 2008; and 770 schools and 134,000 students in 2009

Example of metrics that are not SMART

  • Better communication.
  • Children will be safer, happier and have positive attitudes about their experience in schools and transitional communities
  • Our measurement involves a structure by which each team sets goals, outcomes and benchmarks, which are then visited and re-evaluated throughout the year on a quarterly basis.

Several organizations offer support for non-profit organizations to develop performance measurement. To learn more, visit The Center for What Works.