At the Nonprofit Excellence Awards I attended earlier this year, Witness was recognized for excellence in communications, including a ‘performance dashboard’ which “uses metrics to measure the organization’s results.” Recently, I read another article on this topic, Warning Lights by Maguire Associates which discussed this topic from the viewpoint of educational institutions.
At my current organization, I generate a monthly report which summarizes key statistics for online fundraising: pledge and non-pledge based events, online donations, memberships, honor/memorial donations and ecommerce. The greatest challenge is providing the information in a compact enough format that executives will read, but which include sall important data.
A good analogy is WebTrends & Google Analytics, which we use to monitor our web site traffic. WebTrends clearly provides more data but requires some ‘digging’ to analyze results. Google Analytics, which redesigned its interface earlier this year, shows graphical reports which are easy to present to executives. (For now, we are using both tools.)
At most nonprofits I’ve worked for, it’s rare that all staff members and the public knows how the organization is doing at times other than when the annual report is issued (which is usually many months after the fiscal year ends). Using regularly updated dashboards is a powerful tool to keep employees and stakeholders fully informed.
Attention vendors: can your product integrate in a way so that statistics can be easily utilized by a dashboard type application? The tool used is not critical (I use Excel); what’s important is that the organization provides consistent data to all.