The difference between measurements and metrics

I attended a great workshop last week and throughout the day the speaker peppered the audience with questions related to quantifying our experiences — how many of you measure these outcomes?  how many constituents do you have in these categories?  how would you measure success if your email includes 4 call-to-actions?

More on that later.  First I thought I’d take a minute to refresh my memory about the distinct difference between measurements and metrics.  Seems like the words are interchangeable.  But there’s a big difference.



A measurement occurs when you assign a finite number to something.  Like 451 first-time donors last month.  Or 295 leads assigned last quarter.  Or 148 major gifts received last year.


Sometimes you can count something in a more complicated way, describing it in two dimensions, but it’s still a measurement.  Like 129 first-time donors last month who live outside of Houston.  Or 113 leads assigned last quarter with giving capacity of at least $100,000.  Or 99 major gifts received last year from alumni-donors.  These are all examples of drilling down into the data.  This is always a valuable exercise, but it doesn’t make it a metric.


So how does a measurement become a metric?  When you calculate something.  Like lead conversion rate.  Or cost per dollar raised.  Or percent of market share.  Or donor retention rate.  Or median donation per campaign.


I referred to an article by BSC Designer to check my definitions.  It is a great article and discusses Key Performance Indicators at length.  To read the article, click on the image above.




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