YOUR Top 10 Ways of Measuring Organizational Health

Jan, 07 2016 / /

Happy 2016!

The new year is often a time when many of us regroup and reboot taking stock of current practices that may/may not serve us to be whole, healthy individuals. The promise of self-improvement is often the purpose of New Year's resolutions in which we strive to be our best selves.

However, how does one measure improved health? For some it may mean getting up an hour earlier to exercise, for others it may mean getting more sleep. The list of practices that support a healthy lifestyle can be endless AND daunting. It is often helpful to choose just a few meaningful practices and use them as your barometer for success.

The same applies to organizations!

Last Fall we put out a call to hear from arts and cultural leaders to find out the top metrics they used to assess organizational health. We received over 200+ responses. THANK YOU!

So while we know this list isn't representative of the field as a whole we think it's important to share how our colleagues are thinking about organizational health. We initially planned on reporting only 10 metrics, however there were several ties. So here goes:


#1 Total reach of in-person community engagement

#2 Operating bottom line, considering operating activity only

#3 Number of people engaged per offering (not including virtual activity)

#4 Percentage of expenses supported by unrestricted contributions

#5 Total reach of community engagement, including in-person and virtual touch points

#6 Contributed revenue per dollar spent on fundraising

#7 (TIE) Percentage of expenses supported by unrestricted earned revenue

#7 (TIE) Amount of program revenue invested in direct costs for programs

#7 (TIE) Unrestricted surplus, taking all unrestricted revenue into account except for capital gains

#8 Percentage of expenses supported by earned revenue from memberships and subscriptions

#9 (TIE) Percentage of expenses covered by unrestricted contributions from individuals

#9 (TIE) Percentage of expenses covered by unrestricted contributions from foundations

#10 (TIE) Percentage of expenses covered by unrestricted contributions from trustees

#10 (TIE) Months of working capital

We hope you find this list useful as you think about the health of your own organization. If there are other ways to measure success that were not included in our poll let us know!