The dashboard in a car gives an instant update on many
important factors: speedometer, gas left in the tank,
engine temperature, whether the air conditioner is on. At
the same time, it may not give you the most important
piece of information-whether you are on the right road.
A nonprofit dashboard is similar: it gives important
information to decision makers such as executives and
boards, in a quick-read way. But it may not be helpful on
bigger matters: are we doing the right work? should we be
considering merging or a new initiative?
CompassPoint consultants increasingly work with client
organizations to develop dashboard indicators. Here's an
example that may be helpful to you.
Red: Act now
A report issued at the halfway point in the fiscal year:
*Number of first-time clients. Target = 360 per year.
Current status: 205. GREEN.
* Post-test scores. Target = 80% have increase of 50% or
more. Current status: 65%. RED.
* Client satisfaction. Target: Average score of 4.2 out
of 5.0. Current status: 4.6. GREEN
* Volunteer hours. Target: 960 per year. Current
status: 569. GREEN.
3. Fund development
* Days of cash on hand. Target: 30 days. Current status: 14. RED.
* Net surplus or deficit compared to budget. Target:
within $25,000. Current status: $28,000. YELLOW.
* Days after month end for financial statement
preparation. Target: 21 days. Current status: 41. RED.
* New individual donors. Target: 100 this year. Current
status: 82. GREEN.
* New foundations or corporations. Target: 10 this year.
Current status: 5. GREEN.
* Total non-government revenue. Target: $600,000 this
year. Current status: $178,000. YELLOW.
4. Human resources
* Performance evaluations completed on time. Target: 90%.
Current status: 82%. YELLOW.
* Staff meeting or exceeding goals in core job functions.
Target: 95%. Current status: 97%. GREEN.
5. Board of Directors
* Attendance at board meetings. Target: 75%. Current
status: 83%. GREEN.
* New board members joining. Target: 6 this year.
Current status: 2. RED.
* Executive Director performance evaluation completed on
time. Target: yes. Current status: on timeline but not
Imagine getting a dashboard like this at every meeting --with a glance board members could see how the organization is doing, and go to the important questions.
The board would also be able to discuss what indicators
should be added to the dashboard, and which might not be
necessary. Board committees could look at expanded sets
of indicators within their own areas; for example, the
Fund Development Committee might have additional indicators around major donors, or attendance at events.
If this Dashboard is distributed at each board meeting,
the board can zero in on key issues, rather than try to
discover issues on their own. Don't forget that a
dashboard shows a lot, but not everything