Dash(board) to success

Guest Post \
December 20, 2016

Guest post by Brian Broadbent, President & CEO of BVU: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence

Have you tried to drive a car without a dashboard?  Why would you try to lead a nonprofit without one?  Dashboards are invaluable instruments to help keep the organization “on the rails.”


Why are dashboards important?
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are monitored – This allows us to keep our nonprofit on track.  We identify performance issues early and provide time to resolve them.
  • Visibility into Your Organization – With the right metrics, we will know exactly what is going on in our organizations monitoring the most vital elements to success.
  • Time Savings – We all create and track many data points.  If our nonprofit board and staff can agree on common measures, these can be centralized into summary reports.
  • Improved Results – We have all heard that we get what we measure.  Anything that is measured is also watched and improved upon.  The best dashboards automatically show success indicators, such as a green arrow facing up when things are good and red arrow facing down when they’re not.
  • Reduced Stress – For each metric, results can be shown month-to-date vs. an annual plan and year to date compared to the prior year.  If negative if we are below or if positive we are above expectations.  We can quickly scan for results.  If negative, we know precisely were the problem is and often the fix.
  • Increased Productivity – Dashboards allow us to measure and reward performance.  People naturally work harder to improve their performance and results.


What are our recommendations?
  • Keep it simple – Make sure it is no longer than one page.
  • Be comprehensive – include all of the key elements – financials and operational results.
  • Have it tie to the strategic plan – remind us what you’re trying to accomplish.  Create milestone goals that grow to the ultimate strategic goal.
  • Dashboards need to be fed by your systems. Without ongoing easy access information tracking, the weight of a dashboard will tire staff and hurt timeliness.
  • The elements of a dashboard should include financials, fund raising, program results, quality measures and communications outcomes (social media usage).

In short, anything that helps the organization strategy to remain at the forefront of management and board is vital and I would encourage its development and frequent use.  Your Board, funders and staff will all appreciate a well-constructed dashboard.


Header image by Sean Stratton