Book Review: Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

Beth Kanter's first book, The Networked Nonprofit, taught us how to use social media tools. Her latest book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, which is co-authored by Katie Delahaye Paine, teaches us how to measure what we've done.

The whole idea of measurement and insight has been on my brain for two reasons.

First, During Pinktober Megan Strand and I interviewed the author of Pink Ribbons Inc. on CauseTalk Radio. I initially thought we'd be on opposite sides of the argument, but I found myself nodding in agreement throughout our conversation. She wasn't against cause marketing, as I had wrongly assumed. But she did have some good questions on measurement and insight within the pink ribbons movement. What was the real value of breast cancer awareness? How was success being measured? What goals have and haven't been achieved? You can listen to the show yourself, but I concluded Pinktober needed less emotion and ribbon-waving and more measurement and insight.

My second run in with measurement peaked after the presidential election. How could so many people say for so long that the race was so close only to have Romney lose in a landslide? They're now saying that Romney will get two to three million fewer votes than McCain did in 2008. How is that possible as no one ever called that race a close one? What was and wasn't measured and why did pollsters draw different conclusions from the data?

Lastly, who the hell is this wicked smart guy Nate Silver that everyone is talking about?

Obviously, I have a lot to learn about measuring the success of just about everything.

That's why I want to finish Beth and Katie's book so I can better teach my clients how to measure the success of their social media efforts. What I've really liked about the book so far is it has a ton of case studies. The authors also don't assume you've read Beth's first book (or even her blog) and implemented all the things she suggested.

This book has something for everyone. Even if you're still crawling when others are walking, running and flying (the four stages of becoming data informed in the book), you'll learn something.

A book like this raises the bar for everything you do. Sure, it teaches you how to measure your effectiveness on social media and how to make better decisions. But It also challenges you to do everything better through measurement and insight. For nonprofits, the result will be a better world, which I'm sure Beth and Katie are eager to measure.