How to Calculate the ROI of Online Communities

By Richard Millington

ROI People

This project has taken three months to put together. We began with a rather narrow remit to explain how a single organization (SAP) could demonstrate a positive ROI of their community internally.

This question is far more expansive than it first seems.

Is ROI really the metric that matters? Does everyone truly understand what ROI is and how it should be used? How do we get the data to prove that the community does generate a positive return? Who do we need to prove the ROI to? Why them? What are their unique needs and wishes?

This isn’t just a challenge facing a single organization, but by nearly every organization. The more community professionals we spoke to, the greater the confusion about the nature of ROI, the purpose of measuring ROI, and the wider differences in calculating ROI.

This is why so many community professionals fight so many daily battles, or work in the fear of their value not being recognised. Among the biggest complaints is getting internal buy-in and support. If we could just tackle that value question, we could make a great leap ahead in our work and deliver better results.

Over the previous 16 chapters, we have tried to fundamentally answer that value question in greater depth and detail than we have ever seen before. We believe this is one area that can truly drive the field forward. We want every single person working with communities today to be an expert in understanding the unique value of their community, how to calculate it, and how to communicate it.

If we get this right, I think the perceived value of our work here would be very high indeed.

Thank you for reading.


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