When it comes to measuring metrics, dashboards are all the rage. Go to a conference this year and you’ll hear at least one speaker preaching the importance of “dashboards” and how they can help keep you and your team focused on what matters most.
Dashboards, and the information that they provide, can be useful — the operative word being can. Thinking through what’s needed and setting up a fundraising dashboard is the tricky part of the process. Knowing what metrics you need to see at a glance to determine the health of your organization is challenging, but not impossible.
Today, let’s discuss what is paramount for including on your organization’s dashboard. Bear in mind that every dashboard will be different — your organization should have a strategy in place and specific goals associated with it, which will influence what metrics you need on your fundraising dashboard.
For the sake of keeping it simple in this article, we’ll cover more general dashboard metrics that you’d find most all organizations measuring. And, we have a free template you can use to start building your dashboard too.
We also of course have the free Fundraising Report Card app. You’re welcome to try that out too.
The fundraising dashboard
First let’s make sure we’re on the same page. What exactly is a fundraising dashboard?
Let me give you an example.
For our company we maintain a dashboard in Google Sheets. Yep, no crazy sophisticated charting and visualization tool, just trusty Google Sheets. It took our team months to get our dashboard set up correctly so that it effectively measured what we need.
A good dashboard is one that, at a glance, displays the health of your organization. For us, it took weeks of trial and error to finally figure out what the most important indicators of the business were for us to monitor.
For your organization the process will probably be similar. Your goal should be the same as ours, but relative to nonprofit revenue generation — to understand the health of your fundraising at a glance. In order to do this you’ll need to identify which metrics are the best indicators of your organization’s health.
You can house this in a Google Sheet (like we do), a dedicated tool (like Geckoboard or Fundraising Report Card), or simply your handwritten journal. Whatever it is, it needs to be updated, discussed, and thought through.
At its crux, the purpose of having a dashboard is to provide visibility and spark discussion among the decision makers at your organization on an ongoing basis. It isn’t static, it is updated and reflected upon frequently (weekly or monthly).
Common nonprofit dashboard metrics
There are a handful of key data points you’ll most likely want to include in your organization’s dashboard. They can be broken down into 3 segments:
- Financial metrics
- Fundraising metrics
- Program metrics
We’re going to focus our attention on fundraising metrics. Remember, a dashboard should show us, at a glance, the health of the organization. When you read that sentence, what information comes to your mind? What metrics would illuminate the growth or contraction of your organization?
Here are a few that I’ve seen organizations large and small measure:
- Running total of revenues broken down by type
- Percentage of revenues broken down by type
- Running total of major donors
- Lost major donors
- New major donors
- Giving pipeline metrics
- Qualified supporters
- Supporters in a caseload
- Running total of solicitation amounts
- Held solicitations
- Lost solicitations
The list could go on and on. That’s worth noting though… You don’t want a list of 100 KPIs to update and measure each week. Your dashboard should show at a glance how well the organization is doing. 100 metrics to review is too many.
However, the 20 or so metrics we suggest here in our template should be a good starting place.
Applying this at your shop
Fundraising dashboards have the potential to revolutionize the way your organization uses data. It’s important to recognize that the process to develop a useful fundraising dashboard takes time and patience. Start with the template we’ve created for you and add and subtract from it.
Your fundraising dashboard won’t take shape overnight. Over the course of weeks and months, and with plenty of discussion with your colleagues and peers, you will eventually end up with a document that exposes how well your operation is running. When you do, that will be revolutionary for you and your team.