Keeping the board informed of the performance of a nonprofit organization is necessary to assist the board members in exercising their responsibilities in governing the organization. This may be easier said than done, given the amount of data and information that is available. Often an effective tool is the use of a document that highlights the goals of the organization and its progress in meeting those goals – a dashboard.
Creating a dashboard begins with an assessment of the operational, programmatic, and financial goals of the nonprofit. These goals are those that will enable the organization to grow and/or maintain its ability to meet its mission. Once these goals are set, the next step is an assessment of the metrics to be used to measure progress in attaining those goals.
An effective dashboard to present to the board will include a listing of the overall goals of the organization, current objectives to achieve those goals, and the units of measurement. Next, a summary of the progress in meeting those objectives, using the metrics, will give the users of the dashboard an understanding of the financial and operational health of the organization.
The dashboard can be tailored in many ways to meet the needs of the organization and board. Some have red, yellow and green “status lights” to quickly identify areas where adjustments in operations may be necessary. Some include narratives to more fully describe important highlights. And some include graphic information to demonstrate trends and other information.
Presenting information the board needs to govern the organization in a way that is easy to understand and act upon will enhance the overall effectiveness of the organization in meeting its mission.