Community Engagement Measurements

This weekend I finished The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath,1 the is all about creating experiences of extraordinary impact. To gauge the social impact the authors cited a study that used the Inclusion of Other in the Self (IOS) Scale, which helps to measure how close the respondent feels with another person or group. Interested to learn more I looked it up and came across, Stanford University’s SPARQtools Measuring Mobility Toolkit.

This toolkit, meant to provide measures of economic mobility, includes a number of scientifically efficacious measures to gauge Power and Autonomy, Being Valued in Community, and Economic Success. Particularly interesting are the Being Valued in Community measures, which include:

Why should you care? To pull out an old cliché, “what gets measured gets managed.” If you can track your community’s health over time you can determine what things are working to build it, create strong relationships and make people feel included.

I know I want to start looking at some of these measures for the communities I help foster.

1 As an aside, The Power of Moments is definitely worth a read for anyone looking to build a strong community or put on a memorable event.


This is really cool Nick!! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been really into audio books recently because of my super long commute, so I’ll tack this onto my list :slight_smile:

In your experience, how should someone start if they’ve never tracked measurements before? In addition to the three that are linked, are there any other metrics that you’ve found helps to uncover the growth of a community?

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Yeah I’ll definitely give the book a look. This is all super fascinating!

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Luckily @CWilks our resident survey and tracking pro is on the thread now too, so I’m sure he’ll have some tips about how to measure, however mine below:

  • Start now - Start gathering data with your community, whether through surveys of everyone or sampling. You’ll never be able to really ask about how good/bad your community was, only where it is today, so you need a metric.
  • Choose a metric you can affect - Looking at community health there’s a ton you can measure– how connected are people, how included do they feel, etc. However, these are all dependent variables, they’ll change, but only as a result of something else. Say you chose to measure the number of strong connections amongst community members and came up with some metric for it. That metric likely won’t change much from day-to-day or even week-to-week and looking at it, you can’t easily determine what you can do to affect it. If you instead chose a metric to monitor that affects strong connections amongst community members, like say, number of events you throw or number of mentors signed up for your mentee program you much more easily know how to change that and in turn make progress to affecting strong connections. In metrics land these are called Lead Metrics. For more turn to Radical Focus or The Four Disciplines of Execution.

As for what to look for, I’m no expert in this, but Rob Spectre had some interesting thoughts on community health in his Hackcon II talk, particularly as it pertained to brands, but it also serves well for communities generally.