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A Guide: How Nonprofits Can Better Use Measurement

Many organizations do not systematically evaluate their communication activities

What is the current state of nonprofits’ public relations measurement and evaluation? How can we better measure and evaluate communication as well as better use findings? This paper provides an accessible, yet comprehensive introduction to the current state of nonprofit communication evaluation for professionals and scholars.

Since the 1970s, the measurement and evaluation of public relations have been one of the top research priorities (Watson, 2008; Volk, 2016). However, many organizations still have not systematically evaluated their communication activities. For example, researchers today refer to the status of public relations measurement as “stasis” (Macnamara & Zerfass, 2017, p. 319) or “deadlock” (Macnamara, 2015, p. 371). Unfortunately, scholars have been less interested in professional topics, such as practical measurement methods (Volk, 2016). The difficulty in measurement and evaluation also applies to nonprofits.

Nevertheless, the field of nonprofit communication evaluation is well underway. Some researchers and professionals have attempted to employ new methods to measure the impacts of nonprofit communication and use measurement findings, such as econometric model or marketing mix modeling. Still, despite practical and theoretical importance, the such new communication measurement methods remain little discussed.

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