trend arrowsYou can measure lots and lots of marketing and fundraising numbers. But measuring without adding meaning isn’t very helpful to you, your supporters, or your board.

I recommend that you develop some kind of dashboard, ideally a one-pager in something easy like Excel, Word, or Powerpoint, that updates people on your most important metrics, and adds some of that meaning in a quick-to-review  and easy-to-understand visual way.

For example, you can color code stats. Numbers in your  comfort zone are normal, numbers of concern are in yellow, numbers that require immediate action are red, numbers to celebrate are in green, and any other numbers that are interesting and worthy of note for whatever reason are purple.  Of course, you can come up with whatever color coding scheme works for you.

Here are several resources that can help you create a dashboard of your own.

The Center for Nonprofit Stewardship has a 10-Minute Board Exercise Worksheet on Dashboards. This will help you learn what numbers your board wants to see on a dashboard.

What should the thing look like? Beth Kanter is curating a Pinterest board of nonprofit dashboards.  You’ll find more by simply searching nonprofit dashboard templates.

How do you actually create one? TechSoup Canada offers examples and tools in Dashboard Tools for Nonprofits.

If you want to get really serious about it, read Beyond Dashboards: Business Intelligence Tools for Program Analysis and Reporting by Idealware.