Audience Analysis for Workshop Performance Enhancement: Putting a Measurement on Free

Many non-profit organizations share the same truth-revealing inside-joke: you can’t fire someone who works for free.  Similarly, they often don’t have any measurements or milestones in place because it’s very hard to measure the ROI (return on investment) of something that is given as a free service and/or funded by free labor.  But in order to know if an organization is being effective or not requires some form of criteria (measurement tool) and agreed upon metric (measurement unit).  For a service-based non-profit association, the most obvious metric is client satisfaction, but in many cases the client isn’t going to really look at their gift-horse in the mouth, meaning they will likely not provide much constructive criticism.  If they are measuring the value of the service they received, and they didn’t pay anything for the service, they are likely to perceive the value as incredibly high.  Many people forget that their time is irreplaceable and should be valued.

In conducting an audience analysis for a San Luis Obispo branch of a national non-profit association, I’ve come to realize that they will be unable to determine the value of my services to them if I don’t provide them with a way to continue measuring and marking their progress after I finish my portion of the project.

The problem:

Low attendance at free workshops which they utilize to convert small business owners into clients of the association.  The workshops are their form of public outreach and the statistics are used to elicit more donations and grants to the association.

The intervention:

I believe in this situation that attendance is low due to misalignment of the values of the organization in contrast with the resources designated and operations conducted.  This misalignment has been caused by a need for reframing of the views of those within the association and the only way to reframe their attitudes and opinions will be with measuring what is and is not occurring.


“People’s practices are not congruent with what the organization says it values; the amount of resources assigned to a program or initiative does not match the professed priorities of the organization.” (Hale, 2007, p. 211)


“People are stuck, applying the same solution with no results, or resist change.” (Hale, 2007, p. 211)


“Measures of good performance are lacking or inappropriate.”  (Hale, 2007, p. 211)

As I’ve already mentioned, measuring the opinion of clients after they have been given free services will not best serve the association.  Their financial backers have thus far been appeased with these smile-sheet surveys, but they will not foster growth or realign the association with its nationally designated core values.  They can measure their own attendance and compare their performance historically from one workshop to the next, which is a step in the right direction, but this will not be sufficient evidence to reframe the opinions of those involved as it does not give a measure of what equals “good” attendance.  I suggest they compare their performance to their own potential as they lack a local competitor.

For example, I have already established that their attendance demographics do not match the national averages per the SBO (Survey of Business Owners of the United States Census Bureau’s archives from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration).  Nationally, men make up 53.7% of SMB (Small-to-Mid-sized Business) owners and women make up 35.8%.  In San Luis Obispo County, men make up 50.8% of SMB owners and women make up 32.4%, so this is fairly close in aligning with the national averages.  The association, however, averages 27.7% male and 63.8% female attendees showing up individually.  Couples in attendance were assumed to be joint ownership, which is the third category the SBO uses for gender percentages.   This is what the comparison by gender looks like:

san luis obispo business owner gender

I certainly don’t want to try to exclude women from receiving SMB owner services being a female SMB owner myself, but it’s a statistic that is easy to identify and cross reference as an example.  The gender demographics demonstrate how backwards the demographics of the association’s outreach has turned out to be.  As a result, they are seeing low attendance and low conversion.  Why?  Because they are talking to the wrong people for what they are offering.

I have requested some new data from their archives that I did not previously request in light of some of my discoveries during the analysis.  I intend to use this data to develop achievable goals and milestones for them that correlate to their values and the needs of their true target audience.  I hope to reframe their perspective that without the right type of clay to start with, they will be unsuccessful in molding the next generation of entrepreneurs (of either gender).

3/31/2016 Collecting survey results, paid responses 1
3/31/2016 Draft report 2.5
4/6/2016 Compile data 1.5
4/7/2016 Compile data, send leads 0.75
4/7/2016 Build report 1.75
4/8/2016 Build report, compile data 0.75
4/13/2016 Prepare continuing measurement tools 2.5
4/14/2016 Compile last round of data 1.25
Hale, J. A. (2007).  The performance consultant’s fieldbook: tools and techniques for improving organizations and people (2nd ed.).   Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *