blog-2015-10-09-img-01When I ask conservation advocacy organizations – and I’ve talked to a lot of them – about how they measure the success of their events and campaigns I what to hear numbers. I generally hear that the events were “OK,” or “well attended,” or that they just “don’t know.” I find this frightening because the organization is spending time and money, which they cannot justify. How do they know if their outreach and advocacy are really working?

For $3 and change, you can start your organization on a path to better information; that is with a crowd-clicker (aka a tally counter).

As an example, last year I volunteered at a local arboretum’s annual festival. Attending were 4,000 people who were ecologically minded and happy to be outside in the rain no less. It was a great audience for the sponsor and the other conservation nonprofits that were onsite. Of the 12 nonprofits, I asked about how many people had stopped by their booths; 11 booths had no clue, though some of those groups did have an email sign-up form.

One booth gave me a great answer,

“284 visited her booth, 63 signed-up for the email, she had great conversations with 24 who wanted to come to future events – half of those half wanted information about next month’s meeting, and 8 wanted more information about volunteering.”

It was a great answer that she can take back to her boss and use the data as a baseline for next year’s event. Her secret for knowing the 284 count was that she used a crowd-clicker, and she diligently documented the rest.

At the end of the day I checked in with her again, she had shared her organization’s message with 400 people; that is 10% of the event’s attendance!

I get it, nonprofits are stretched for resources, but do yourself a favor, get a crowd clicker. Start measuring your events.