Designing attractive and actionable advancement dashboards

By Diana Barnes

As budgets all across higher education shrink, advancement is seeing an increased role in funding the institution. With this new celebrity, however, also comes increased scrutiny. Boards are more focused than ever on the return on investment and cost to raise a dollar. Even donors, after well-publicized scandals at some non-profits, are asking about advancement overhead. The modern advancement shop needs to both drive productivity amongst its fundraisers while demonstrating prudence to external audiences.

Many institutions have turned to dashboards to accomplish both: strategic dashboards for their board and president, managerial dashboards for their frontline fundraisers and staff. But how should dashboards differ according to their intended audience? Who should be able to see all of the dashboards' information? How do you even get your audience to look at your dashboard and grasp the enormous amount of information contained therein? We here at EAB have compiled dashboard examples from all across our membership and profiled the best practices in dashboard content and design.

Make your strategic dashboards high-level, concise, and visually appealing

The strategic dashboard, as opposed to a managerial one, is used by advancement leaders to demonstrate progress to external audiences like the board, the president, or other campus leaders. Of course, because of these audiences’ focus, the dashboards need to be high-level and focused on production and efficiency. They also need to turn large amounts of data into something concise and easily understandable.

One of the best strategic dashboards we profiled comes from George Washington University. Note the extensive use of data visualization and the focus on comparison of performance year-over-year across strategically important categories (e.g., level of gift, designated unit, campaign use). They've also organized their dashboard so that their key summary numbers (i.e., Total Campaign Donations and Donations by Monetary Level) appear at the top. They then offer the option of further, more detailed analysis with filters for variables like previous years, campaign pillar, and region.

Executive Dashboard Design

See our full white paper for more strategic dashboard examples

Engage fundraisers and guide behavior with managerial dashboards

Managerial dashboards, on the other hand, are aimed at fundraisers and their managers. They monitor progress towards goal on a variety of metrics and put performance into the context of the larger advancement office. While, many institutions we spoke with had managerial dashboards, we rarely encountered managers that felt their dashboard was actively shaping fundraiser behavior and increasing productivity. To design a dashboard that will motivate, inform, engage fundraisers see our 'Quick Starter Guide' below.

Quick starter guide for managerial dashboards

Quick starter guide for managerial dashboards

More ways to surpass your advancement goals

Effective dashboard aren't the only thing that can motivate your team. Learn to retain top advancement talent and raise more funds with an incentive compensation program that encourages your staff to exceed both organizational and personal goals.

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