One of the hallmarks of development operations is the abundance of data. We have a metric to track virtually every facet of our business. We utilize dashboards, spreadsheets, databases, and graphs to chart our progress among our staff, to the institution’s leadership, and to its governing body. We are awash with information and statistics. But how can a small shop stay afloat in such a tremendous tide?
Although many publications and presentations address the topic of metrics, little attention has been paid to operations that:
Have 50,000 alumni or fewer.
Have 5,000 students or fewer.
Have 20–25 staff members or fewer.
Have budgets of less than US$5 million (covering salaries, benefits and operational expenses).
Close $10 million or less in total commitments on an annual basis
In our book, Development Metrics for Small Shops, we set out to provide guidance to any small development operation within an educational institution that seeks to improve its use of metrics. We looked to a variety of sources, including our decades of experience at several higher education institutions and our participation as speakers at conferences.
Here, we look at why metrics matter for small shops, benchmarking, and which metrics matter most.