Presented by Jonathan Poisner
For the Nonprofit Network of
ABOUT JONATHAN POISNER
Strategic and Campaign Planning
Author: Why Organizations Thrive:
Lessons from the Front Lines for
Nonprofit Executive Directors
WHAT WE’LL BE COVERING
What is a Nonprofit Dashboard?
What should go into a Dashboard?
How to develop your Dashboard
How to display your Dashboard
WHAT IS A NONPROFIT
A 1-2 page document
Using a combination of charts, graphs,
To visually present information about
Intended (usually) for a board
SO WHY A NONPROFIT
In light of our conversation
about the purpose of car
dashboards, what is the
purpose of a nonprofit
My top purposes . . . .
To track overall organizational performance
To focus the board’s attention on the most
To help the board (and staff) think strategically
To identify on a timely basis if the organization is
going to have a problem
SO WHAT SHOULD A
“Key Performance Indicators” or KPIs
Key – because you’re not measuring
Performance – you want measurements
that evaluate how well you’re doing
Indicators – you want measurements that
point you in the direction of taking action.
IF YOU HAVE A STRATEGIC
PLAN . . .
Look at the Strategic Plan’s Goals
Hopefully the plan already contains
measurements of success under each
Identify which of these are most critical at this
point in time for the organization
Probably contains a combination of
programmatic indicators and institutional
capacity indicators (like finances/fundraising)
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A
First, consider investing time into a strategic plan
before developing a Dashboard.
But if you insist . . .look at your programs and ask:
Which of these are most important?
What measurements of success make sense in
light of the challenge of generating data?
Then look at your institutional capacity and ask,
what are the biggest indicators of success?
“COMPARED TO WHAT”
For any KPI, you must also answer: compared to
Will it be enough to just track performance over
time, so compared to prior years? Prior
Should you also compare towards specific
objectives you’ve set.
OUTCOMES V. OUTPUTS
Outcomes – the ultimate results from
your work that represent advancement
towards your mission or enhanced
Outputs – the activities you engage in
that you hope lead to outcomes.
WHICH DO YOU WANT,
OUTCOMES OR OUTPUTS?
Both may be appropriate . . .
Too much outputs and you may be doing lots
of activity, without knowing if you’re
advancing towards your mission.
To much outcomes and you may miss out on
early indications whether you’re on track to
Plus, for some organizations outcomes are
really, really challenging to have good data.
WHAT ARE YOUR RISK
If one purpose is to get an early indication things are
going wrong, think about what indicators would
If this is an organizational
dashboard for the board, make
sure it’s focused at a level
relevant for the board.
Staff may ultimately use other
Dashboards to help them keep
track of performance within
WHAT ARE SOME POTENTIAL
Revenue broken out by fundraising strategy
Possibly as a net instead of gross
Number of donors/members
Renewal/retention rate for donors
Diversity of fundraising (by strategy, geography,
Percentage of contributed funds that are
Many more possible KPIs
WHAT ABOUT OTHER
Cash on hand
Perhaps just unrestricted
Months of cash on hand
Expected cash as of 6 months from now
For nonprofits that generate revenue through fee
for service, some of the KPIs may relate back to
programs (such as people served, enrollment,
YOU MAY WISH TO CREATE
“Sum of All Actions” example at OLCV
Instead of reporting each and every
communications metric (clicks, shares,
forwards, donations, etc.), create a
catch-all to combine them all as
“actions taken in response to a
communication” and track quarterly.
HOW MANY KPIS?
The sweet spot is 4-15, but there’s no magic
Too many and it will be hard to focus the board’s
attention and to display it on just a couple pages.
Too few and you won’t really be assessing
organizational performance, just a small subset
WHO DOES THIS?
A subcommittee of board and staff should launch
the process. And probably meet for a couple of
Not something to rush. May turn out to take a
couple of meetings as you figure out what data
you can reasonably generate.
Then take a proposal to the board meeting and
have a broader conversation with them for
Then come back into a Committee (if necessary)
to adjust based on feedback and work out any
Excel is your friend
May wish to use green, yellow, red indicators
Scorecard-type display (indicators in rows with
the actual data, goal, trend, and variance)
Graphic-style display (pie charts, bar graphs, line
Fully automating the process is unlikely to be
worth the effort since data being drawn upon will
almost certainly be in different places.
HOW OFTEN TO REVIEW?
Dashboards should be reviewed by the board at
For some metrics, it may make sense to review
quarterly or monthly at the staff level and then
to share with the board if something is amiss.
There may be some organizations where a
quarterly review of the Dashboard by the full
board is worthwhile.
Don’t even try this until you have good data
(finances, fundraising, programmatic)
Put someone in charge (both creation and
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good
No Dashboard is final
A Dashboard is not a substitute for providing
your board underlying financial reports
I’d like you to each think for a minute on your
own and answer the following question: What
two things you’ve learned from this Workshop
that you will definitely communicate back to
others within your organization.
Then report back.