Measurement Drives Excellence at Hillel

January 26, 2016

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


At Hillel International, we know the importance of guiding students on their college journey. As they question their beliefs and assumptions, and forge an adult identity of their own, Hillel helps students explore Jewish life and make meaning. Periodic evaluations have demonstrated the significance of Hillel’s work. However, Hillel has never attempted to regularly measure the effectiveness of campus Hillels, nor did we possess the methodologies to do so. Until now.

Hillel’s strategic implementation plan, The Drive to Excellence, articulates a set of engagement goals to help a significant number of Jewish students make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Here’s how we break that down:

Excellent Hillels will know the names of 90% of Jewish students on campus; interact at least once a year with 70%; form an ongoing relationship with 40% and provide high impact experiences (think Birthright Israel, leadership roles, fellowships, service learning, Jewish study) with at least 20% of Jewish students each year.

Recognizing that data are essential to understanding our impact, Hillel International has committed to helping local Hillels regularly study their impact on Jewish students. We have set a goal to help at least 100 Hillels participate in ongoing measurement by 2020. To that end, Hillel launched the Measuring Excellence pilot in 2014 with 18 Hillels. Now in its second year, the pilot includes 48 Hillels representing 73 campuses.

With support from Rosov Consulting and Collaborative Strategies Inc., Hillel has collected a variety of data on each local Hillel: finance, fundraising activity, student participation data, and employee engagement. In the first year, 2,700 students across the 18 participating pilot-sites participated in an initial student survey which asked about students’ knowledge, attitudes and activities and about various facets of Jewish life. It also asked questions about students’ participation in Hillel in order to ensure that our targets for student engagement were accurate.

One hundred percent of the 18 Hillels increased their rates of student engagement in at least one of the ”90/70/40/20” engagement targets between year 1 and year 2 of measurement. Seven of those 18 Hillels, increased in three categories.

Part of this success can simply be attributed to better data collection. Hillels learned quickly what data they were good at capturing, and where their practices were lacking. They then made steps to improve. We count this as an important early success of the measurement pilot.

We are also seeing the participating Hillels talk and act more strategically. During the year, we spoke with pilot Hillels who were newly setting targets for their staff teams, and tracking their progress.

With a goal of having 50 excellent Hillels and 85% of the rest improving annually by 2020, a data informed culture is a foundational component of Hillel’s Drive to Excellence. In 2016, another 20-30 Hillels will join the existing 48 as they continue their measurement efforts.

The success of the Drive to Excellence compels Hillel International to not only support Hillels in collecting and analyzing data, but also help them adopt best practices and programs, and garner more resources to engage a larger percentage of the Jewish student population in the years ahead.

While researchers will continue to study Jewish college students and produce valuable reports about trends or the efficacy of particular programs, none of these studies can replace the value of each Hillel having its own performance data. With it, Hillels will know where they are truly succeeding and where they can still improve. And with a robust data-oriented approach to pursing our mission, the broader community can rest assured that their investment in the Jewish future is well placed with Hillel.

Read the entire post at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Feb. 10, 2016