Nonprofit Dashboards – Resources List

Webinar Video

Download the presentation slides here.

Resources for Dashboards

Articles on the Development and Implementation of Dashboards

Strategic dashboards: designing and deploying them to improve implementation.” Michael K. Allio, Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 40, No. 5. 2012.

“Why are dashboards, a tool premised upon the uncontroversial notion that managers should capture meaningful strategic data and consider its significance routinely to improve implementation, so ineffective? In recent years, more corporations and non-profits determined to improve implementation of business and corporate strategy have sought to devise a dashboard specifically designed to track key performance indicators. But to really unlock this tool’s strategic potential, leaders need to forge a broader process that incorporates how the dashboard is designed, positioned, populated, and deployed across the organization.”

Models and Components of Great Nonprofit Dashboards.” Hilda Polanco and Sarah Walker, Nonprofit Quarterly. February 17, 2016.

This article focuses more on the financial component of a dashboard than the programmatic one, and it uses more examples from organizations that deliver a “countable” service than those doing less tangible advocacy work. But it demonstrates many of the critical principles involved in dashboard creation and is a good start to understanding the components of a great dashboard. The aim of this article is to set readers on the path toward creating an effective dashboard or improving one already in use.

Elegant Reporting in Nonprofit Accounting.” Curtis Klotz, Innovation in Nonprofit Finance blog. March 4, 2020.

The end goal of an elegant accounting system is to produce elegant reports – information that clarifies the questions at hand, focuses our decision-making on relevant facts, and reveals the connections between financial information and strategy. Nonprofits that develop the capacity for sophisticated reporting are better able to tell their financial story and better able to align their financial resources in service of their mission.

Whole Organization Budgeting: A Collaborative Approach for Nonprofits.” Curtis Klotz, Innovation in Nonprofit Finance blog. October 29, 2020.

“Taking a whole organization budgeting approach brings together the talents, insights, and energy of key staff from throughout your organization. This approach relieves the CEO or CFO of sole responsibility and shares ownership and accountability for the budget, and the careful mission planning it represents, among your whole organization.”

Benchmarking through Intermediaries: Finding Helpful Templates

We offer these few intermediary-based resources for dashboards only as examples of the resources available at that level in some fields. In some cases, they and other information provided by field intermediaries can be useful not only for benchmarking, but for helping to identify KPIs and reporting formats.

Performance Benchmarking Toolkit for Health Centers: Tracking Data to Improve Financial Performance.” Capital Link. National Health Care for the Homeless Council. August 2019.

“During this period of rapid industry transformation, it is increasingly important for health centers to measure and monitor organizational data to inform financial management decisions and demonstrate value. Applying data analysis tools helps leaders more effectively track performance, understand key drivers, and incorporate operational insights to position the health center for financial sustainability and continued success.”

The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on the Arts and Culture Sector.” Americans for the Arts, 2023.

“Americans for the Arts surveyed arts organizations and agencies of all types, genres, sizes, and tax statuses for nearly a year to capture the human and financial impact of the coronavirus on America’s arts sector.”

The Old Standby of Tech Options: Using Excel as Your Base

Every year brings many lists of software platforms you can use to build your dashboard. We do not pretend to be able to provide a full comparative review here. Instead, we suggest that many of you may find Microsoft Excel meets most of your needs; here, we provide a map to a variety of Excel options (free and paid) for graphic depictions of your data.

 “The 7 Best Excel Dashboard Templates – Free & Paid (2023).” Spreadsheeto.

Select Templates and Tools

Download this “red-yellow-green” template and this “financial health” template, both from BDO, which provide some visual results. They also offer this KPI identification tool as part of dashboard training.