Nonprofit Dashboards: Gaining Real-Time Visibility into Nonprofit KPIs
Nonprofit finance leaders have traditionally been seen as scorekeepers when it comes to financial and performance data. However, nonprofit finance leaders want and need to assume a more strategic role as a mission accelerator. That shift requires the ability to gain deeper insights into the organization. To do this, finance leaders need real-time visibility of both financial and operational metrics.
In today’s environment, it’s never been more important to understand how your organization is really performing so you can make strategic planning decisions about programs, fundraising, staffing, and more. In a survey of more than 500 nonprofit finance leaders, 29% believed that a lack of real-time visibility into nonprofit KPIs slows their ability to make those types of decisions.1
As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that nonprofits must remain agile. Many nonprofits leaders have significant concerns about their ability to carry out their mission, forcing program shifts and reassessments. Since March 2020, 58% of organizations surveyed have experienced a decrease in revenue.2 Further, a recent survey conducted for Fidelity Charitable3, as well as a Gallup survey4, both found volunteer activity was decreasing during the pandemic. Therefore, many nonprofits are facing a shortage of donations and volunteers. In the face of these challenges, more than 40% of nonprofit leaders believe adaptability is the most important trait needed to succeed.5
So how can nonprofits gain this all-important agility? Organizations have been turning to an incredible tool — the dashboard.
Gaining visibility: How finance leaders use nonprofit metrics dashboards to see the bigger picture
Nonprofit finance leaders need to see the entire picture of their organization to proactively manage performance. True visibility includes both financial and operational data to track impact and outcomes. This is where our nonprofit accounting software, specifically nonprofit dashboards come in. Nonprofit dashboards help monitor the effectiveness of an organization based on the factors that tell that story most clearly.
Nonprofit metrics dashboards make it easy for finance leaders to understand the “universal” financial metrics and the “unique” operational and outcome metrics. Transactions can be tagged with key business driver attributes called “dimensions,” so that finance teams can sort, view, filter, and report on the specific information needed to analyze and act. Dimensional reporting makes it easy to provide the most relevant information to various staff and management roles. Customized, role-based dashboards display the information needed for a specific role—data can be presented in charts, graphs, and reports, as well as communication streams to collaborate.
Telling the story: What a good dashboard can do for you
Not all dashboard software is made equal. A nonprofit may not need every bell and whistle, but certainly software must be robust enough to tell the full story so that key stakeholders can understand the state of the organization. In a previous blog post, we focused on 12 key financial performance metrics to monitor the financial health of your nonprofit. Once you can use dashboards to track those KPIs, there are six important elements that a successful nonprofit dashboard must include6:
- Communicate strategic results and business intelligence: Dashboards should provide a summary of KPIs that show the impact of programs and outcomes. For example, quantity of services, enrollment numbers, and quality score.
- Present data visually in easy-to-consume formats: Graphs and charts help stakeholders visualize impact. Nonprofit dashboard software should allow users to easily build attractive visuals that convey information effectively.
- Provide snapshots of both the current moment in time and trends: Using visual indicators to quickly spot the information that matters most. Whether that be a day-to-day statistic or a larger, broader trend, the right snapshot can prepare decision-makers to stay agile and understand what is coming.
- Performance analysis: Efficient dashboard software can slice and dice your data across different dimensions to get different views without needing to run a separate report. This can help organizations analyze from all angles without wasting critical time.
- Highlight any anomalies: When presenting dashboards, it’s critical to flag any results that are out of the ordinary, such as an unprecedented one-time gift. The right filters and dimensions can help clarify data to provide the most accurate picture.
- Sampling of KPIs specific to role: Tailoring the dashboard experience to different stakeholders is key. By controlling who sees real-time reports and period-end views, organizations can get critical information to the right people at any moment. The best software allows you to select the appropriate KPIs to display for each role.
Role-based dashboards: Customize views to better monitor performance and outcomes
Role-based dashboards provide at-a-glance views of what matters most to each nonprofit manager, executive, board member, and other stakeholders. Financial leaders benefit by getting instant visibility into key markers of financial stewardship while program managers can keep tabs on metrics related to program budgets and outcomes.
In Sage Intacct, role-based dashboards, such as this CFO view, gather the most important KPIs for an individual’s job into a single view.
With Sage Intacct, executive leaders and program managers can keep track of key nonprofit KPIs on a regular basis. Real-time reporting and dashboards provide regular insight to help drive decisions that ensure mission success. The ability to drill-down into KPIs relevant to each role helps leaders look forward and plan, based on what’s really happening in programs, and make more proactive decisions.
KPIs that matter most: How Sage Intacct’s financial reports and dashboards provide visibility when you need it
Sage Intacct provides pre-built reports, dashboards, and visualizations based on nonprofit finance best practices. Once you have access to real-time metrics with the context of dimensions, you can provide staff and management the ability to gather the most relevant information to their role through customized, role-based dashboards.
In Sage Intacct's nonprofit accounting software, the finance team can easily configure dashboards, or even sets of dashboards, for any user role and set permissions to ensure that each user receives only the information that is relevant and approved for his or her role. With our nonprofit dashboards, your finance team has access to wide visibility through open integration with other best-in-class applications. For example, you can track statistical metrics that are central to your organization’s operations and programs such as donor relationship management, payroll, staffing, fundraising, or payments data.
Open API integration in Sage Intacct allows nonprofit leaders to see the complete picture of organizational performance and outcomes from multiple data sources.
See it work: Role-based dashboards in action
Role-based dashboards deliver insight into financial or operational health and trends occurring within the organization. For example, the Board Member dashboard view below provides key KPIs at-a-glance. It includes visuals indicating that fundraising and administrative expenses are down while program efficiency is improving.
Sage Intacct role-based dashboards can be built for anyone in the organization, from executives to program managers and fundraisers. Above is an example of a Board Member View.
Key metric visualizations like these help nonprofit leaders easily track trend lines and stay on top of any potential concerns to guide the organization around financial challenges. At a glance, nonprofit executives, board members, and finance leaders can gain insights they can leverage for better decision-making.
Increased visibility can help key stakeholders strengthen funding stability and guide planning and strategy. The ability to instantly view the number of constituents served allows the board to understand the organization’s reach and measure its impact.
Both the CFO and Board Member role-based dashboards include notes from within Sage Intacct. Sage Intacct Collaborate puts everyone on the same page to improve communication and teamwork, expedite processes, and improve decision making. In one click, a board member can see all messages from the Finance Committee for example, giving them the complete context from all participants in one place. Likewise, the CFO and auditor can communicate just as easily, reducing audit time and expense.
“Before, everyone was in the dark, but with Sage Intacct it’s a whole new world. Department managers can see precisely how they are doing with the click of a button ... As a result, people are controlling their costs proactively, the organization’s overall expenses are down, we’re sticking to our budget, and our spend is under control.”
Alisa Brill, Chief Financial Officer, Paws Chicago
Nonprofit leaders need agility and adaptability to respond to an ever-changing philanthropic landscape. Access to real-time insights tailored for specific roles is more critical than ever. To respond to an ever-changing philanthropic landscape, nonprofit leaders need to improve agility and adaptability with access to real-time insights tailored for each person’s specific role. With quick access to nonprofit KPIs, presented in a user-friendly visual format through a nonprofit metrics dashboard, key stakeholders can monitor financial and operational performance. With this improved visibility, leaders will have the tools to strengthen financial stewardship and make more proactive management decisions.
For an in-depth look at how dashboards can provide finance professionals and executives with a real-time view of what matters most, download our eBook, Achieving Real-Time Visibility with Nonprofit Financial Reporting and Dashboards.
1,2 Sage Intacct, 2021 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report
3 Fidelity Charitable, COVID-19 and philanthropy: How donor behaviors are shifting amid pandemic
4 Gallup, Percentage of Americans Donating to Charity at New Low, May 14, 2020
5 NLC, Survey Reveals Impact of COVID-19 and 2020 Challenges on Nonprofits at Year-End, November 16, 2020
6 NPQ, Models and Components of a Great Nonprofit Dashboard, December 18, 2019
Nancy Master is a senior nonprofit industry marketing manager at Sage Intacct and is passionate about helping nonprofits achieve mission success. Nancy has more than 15 years of experience in software marketing and close to 20 years of experience working with a human services nonprofit organization.
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