Your Ultimate Nonprofit Dashboard Guide (With Samples)

March 6, 2023
10 minutes
An orange graph rises on the left hand side of the image while several reports in white, orange, and blue load up on the right hand side.

If you've only seen dashboards on cars, trains, or spaceships, you're in for a treat: here's everything you need to make a nonprofit dashboard for your fundraising! Pull in donor activity and environmental attributes, campaign success, programmatic funding goals, event engagement and more. Use the combined data for long-game fundraising success.

What is a dashboard for a nonprofit?

A dashboard for a nonprofit is a clear, visual display of relevant organizational data. By representing data in an accessible format, users can quickly and easily view, track, and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) and other business metrics to understand how an organization is performing.

6 reasons why dashboards for nonprofits are important

Now that you know what a dashboard is, you may be thinking that you really like things the way they are, and you really don’t need a fundraising dashboard, no matter how helpful, time-saving, life-changing, and kind it may be. (Full disclaimer: We don’t know what sort of personality your dashboard would have if it achieved sentience, but we think it would be kind.) Seriously, though, analytical dashboards track all sorts of useful things in real time, and once you hop on the bandwagon, we think you'll be a convert. Read over their many benefits below.  

1. Get a snapshot of your organization

Dashboards show data in a way that’s intuitive and easy to understand so that you’ll never be grappling for an answer again. Want to know your donor retention rate? What about average gift size? Donation page bounce rate? You can use dashboards to visualize all of it, with spiffy graphs and nifty charts. Plus, you can share those vital insights with others with a click or take a screenshot for when you make presentations or PDFs.

2. Build a data-driven strategy

Dashboards allow you to compare various nonprofit KPIs, which are metrics that help you evaluate your organizational performance. By displaying those essential insights in one handy place, you can spot patterns, monitor trends over time, and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses. You can then act on those insights, ensuring a business decision can be made based on hard evidence.

3. Facilitate transparency

Donors and board members alike want to know what’s actually going on with your organization, and dashboards display your data clearly and efficiently. You can show donors exactly where their funds are going and put their minds at ease. Dashboards are helpful for managers as well, looping them into all the latest management KPIs so they can make strategic decisions based on the latest treasure trove of insights.

4. Save so much time

They say behind every effective nonprofit is an effective dashboard, and analyzing data in a tool like Excel (or worse, relying on your middle school math skills) is a real time suck. Whether you're tracking social activity across channels or performance trends year-over-year, a dashboard can deliver vital information instantly. You just select the data needed for KPIs, sit back, and let those key takeaways wash over you.

5. Track your progress

As a growing charity, you have big dreams for social impact, like world peace and universal education. But before you get there, you have smaller goals, which you regularly work toward and update to ensure you’re on track to achieve your greater vision. By converting these agreed-upon goals into measurable benchmarks, then evaluating them against your actual performance at regular intervals, you can quickly identify where you need to make a change. If you want to track your progress over time, consider doing quarterly pulls of relevant data.

6. Speak the same language

With everything going on, it’s easy for different stakeholders to get siloed. But dashboards all speak the same language: consistent numbers and clear visualizations, available anywhere and any time (as long as you have an internet connection, but of course). As a result, they're good for encouraging efficient collaboration as well as good for fostering healthy communication.

Provide important data dashboards to your nonprofit board

10 nonprofit dashboard types

Just like you have many types of data, there are many types of nonprofit dashboards. Before you get overwhelmed, keep in mind that each type can be helpful in its own way. There’s no almighty dashboard, but hopefully, this list will help you choose the right ones for your needs.

1. Nonprofit KPI dashboard

This is your king/queen/kween dashboard. A nonprofit KPI dashboard, also known as a strategic dashboard or a business intelligence (BI) dashboard, displays the key metrics of an organization. You can use BI to build shareable dashboards for nonprofits that display items like donor retention rate, number of volunteers, number of clients served, or total donations.

2. Nonprofit financial dashboard

Next, a nonprofit financial dashboard displays all the must-know info about your income statements and cash flow, such as revenue, expenses, and more. This type of dashboard is a key tool to monitor financial health, inform fundraising strategy, and create a fiscal narrative around your organization. So, you’ll want to update it regularly (quarterly pulls of raw data work well) to stay on top of any changes.

3. Volunteer dashboard

Your volunteers are crucial to your success, and a volunteer dashboard visualizes everything volunteer-related so you can keep things running and keep your volunteers happy. Metrics might include total volunteers, volunteer retention (average time within your organization), volunteer training time, and more.

4. Impact dashboard

An impact dashboard is a type of business intelligence (BI) dashboard that visually communicates your organization’s value to key stakeholders. It often includes impact reach, which measures how well an organization’s programs and services are reaching the target population. Other metrics might include program outcomes and community impact.

5. Management dashboard

Dashboards are useful tools for external stakeholders, but staff members can also benefit from all those insights. Creating a dashboard for managers can help your directors and supervisors access valuable information with a click. With knowledge of high-level, organization-wide trends, they can be good managers as well as good leaders.

6. Annual report dashboard

For the annual report of your dreams, you want to build a narrative around your data, balancing hard numbers with moving stories from the field. An annual report dashboard allows you to tell the full visual story of everything happening across your organization. Then, when the time comes to send it out to donors, board members, and other stakeholders, you have all those key metrics at the ready.  

7. Project management dashboard

If you have separate programs or larger projects, it can be helpful to create a clean and branded visual representation of each one as a project management tool. If your organization uses a project management platform, you can use the native dashboards where the data live. Then, you can analyze key metrics by project and deliver the right data to the right people. If you really want to get into it and maximize efficiency, you can include things like time per task ratio to keep everything on track.

8. Website analytics dashboard

Your website holds a ton of powerful data, plus it's your donation gateway, but without a dashboard, only the software engineers have access to it. Extract that data from Google Analytics, shine it up, and share it with key stakeholders and staff members to give a high-level overview of web performance metrics, like traffic, bounce rate, and session duration. Then, use those takeaways to organize your site in a way that allows users to navigate (and donate!) with ease.

9. Platform-specific dashboard

In addition to tracking web performance, you can analyze various metrics across social media platforms. In fact, many platforms already include a dashboard. For example, on LinkedIn, you can view your search appearances, post views, and profile views. And on Instagram, you can explore key insights, like how many accounts you've reached.

10. Event dashboard

Fundraising events require a lot of work. After it’s all over, you want to know if it was worth those long hours and that big investment. By analyzing your events, you can see what types of events were the most popular, what auctions items paid off, and what demographics showed up. Then, use your dashboard to present your findings to your events committee so they can plan for bigger crowds ahead.

9 things to include in a dashboard for nonprofits

There are many, many possibilities when it comes to a dashboard for nonprofits. Depending on your organization’s specific needs, there will be different KPIs and different priorities, and you’ll organize them in different ways and update them at regular intervals. But the job of every dashboard is to deliver critical information to allow users to identify trends over time and evaluate organizational impact. And that means they all have a bunch of stuff in common. Consider including the following:

1. Clear KPIs and metrics

KPIs may sound like tech-y jargon, but they’re crucial to creating dashboards that are useful and relevant. Choose these metrics wisely, taking into account your organization's definition of success and how different metrics reflect progress toward your goals. Useful performance indicators might include financial, strategic, programmatic, governance, and/or operational metrics.

2. Graphs and charts

Your dashboard should include data visualizations in multiple, easily accessible formats so that everyone gets the gist of things with a glance. Line graphs, bar charts, pie plates (oops, we mean charts! We just really want pie.) … you want to visualize organizational performance clearly, choosing colors that are distinct. This provides the full visual story needed to inform decision making.

3. High-quality data

Not all data is created equal, so ensure you have the latest and greatest data (i.e., data that’s fully up-to-date and accurate). Check for duplicate data, update everything carefully, and visit with other departments to ensure you’re including everything you need. Pro tip: By using consistent data that connects with your CMS, you can ensure you’re always using the latest data and avoid errors due to manual entry.

4. Target audience

For any dashboard, it’s important to consider your audience. Who’s going to use it and what will they be using it for? This will inform your metrics, goals, and formatting. Additionally, you should consider where your audience will be viewing the content. If it’s going out to your volunteers, it needs to be mobile-friendly. If you’re presenting it to staff at an all-hands meeting, however, it should be tailored for the presentation.

5. A data-driven story

Numbers sometimes get a bad rep because they’re not as fuzzy-wuzzy as words, but done right, your data can tell a beautiful, informative story. You just need to present it all in a way that gets the message across, creating a narrative around major data points. What charts will be most useful? Which ones will serve as your climax? And where’s that happy (or not so happy, but we hope it’s happy) ending?

6. Points of comparison

All that lovely data means nothing if it isn’t in the context of other information. So your social activity is up 12% this quarter—sounds swell! But if it’s down 27% from this time last year, that story’s looking really different. Provide all the necessary information for your users to understand exactly what’s going on.

7. Clear and consistent labels

Just like a 5th-grade science project, you need to clearly label every item on your dashboard. Take it back to basics and check that your x- and y-axes are labeled, any color-coded items have a legend, and any units are named. Further, be consistent within each dashboard. If one chart shows euros and the other US dollars, everyone’s going to be scrambling for a conversion table.

8. The right amount of information

Not too much and not too little is the name of the dashboard design game. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with 5,000 different items. At the same time, you want to provide a full picture of what’s going on, and that means covering your bases. What’s more, we like to round our numbers for a cleaner look—no need for five decimal places.

9. Clean design

Gone are the days of adding the shadow effect to every PowerPoint headline! We’re in a time of white space and minimalism, so limit the colors you use, don’t add patterns, and stay away from frames and other effects. What matters is the information you’re getting across, and the best way to highlight that is by minimizing distractions.

Discover the data that Funraise dashboards can deliver

3 nonprofit dashboard samples

Let’s wrap everything up with a big, silky bow by providing some nonprofit dashboard examples so you know what you’re looking for. The samples below are all Funraise reports, and as you can tell, they’re providing essential info with clear visualizations, configurable charts, and custom reports.

1. Donation overview

Blue and orange charts of all types sit on a white background

Nonprofits love storytelling, right? And what's more compelling than proof of concept? That's why this donation overview fundraising dashboard is our absolute favorite. When other people have their kids as their lockscreen, we've got a donation overview dashboard.

What we like

  • Configurable report layouts allow you to prioritize data
  • Colorful, eye-catching graphs make the data easy to digest
  • All of this data together paints a "Heck Yes!" picture of donation and fundraising activity across time and space. What's not to like?

2. Recurring overview

Green recurring reports sit on a white background

Need a report that expresses your nonprofit's predictable income? Recurring revenue is incredibly important not just for your prior fundraising goals, but for your nonprofit's future. Put together a fundraising dashboard that does more than just reveal how well you did in the past.

What we like

  • Big totals at the top shout success
  • High-contrast graphs simplify growth patterns
  • Year-over-year fundraising results motivate staff and show your board the value of recurring programs

3. Peer-to-peer fundraiser overview

Blue circle and line graphs show off on a white background

Peer-to-peer fundraising relies on more than just nonprofit staff efforts; it's whole-community teamwork. Reports show not only the successful fundraisers, but areas that can use additional attention in the future.

What we like

  • Fundraiser activity shows both campaign and seasonal patterns
  • Donor segmentation
  • Bold totals at the top emphasize the effect of P2P fundraising effects

Why use Funraise for nonprofit dashboards?

And there you have it: plenty of evidence that Funraise is your go-to source for nonprofit dashboards. You can organize your data exactly as you want with our all-in-one toolkit, which provides ready-made every fundraising report and gorgeous dashboard template under the sun—and allows you to export them with a click.

Get more information on Funraise nonprofit dashboards

Key takeaways on nonprofit dashboards

  • A dashboard is a visual representation of organizational data that allows users to view, track, and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) and other business metrics to understand how an organization is performing.
  • They're important for a nonprofit because they clearly display key trends, help make data-driven decisions, facilitate accountability and transparency, save time and money, and facilitate better communication.
  • There are many tool options when it comes to building dashboards, including Google Analytics, Excel, and Microsoft Power BI. Of course, for charities, a nonprofit CMS with data visualization features is the best way to go (and we'd recommend Funraise).
  • There are many types of dashboards, with some of the most common types focusing on financial health, program impact, KPIs, donor analytics, and volunteer activities.
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