Drive Your Nonprofit Like a Corvette

By J. Patrick Traynor

The following is excerpted from “Reimagining Board Service: A Practical Blueprint for Building a High Impact Board.” You can purchase a copy here.

In any vehicle, there are approximately 30,000 interconnected parts — far too many for the average operator to understand. But to drive and maintain that vehicle, a person only needs to know a few core pieces of information, and they’re all located on the vehicle’s dashboard. Specifically, you need to know whether the car is turned on, which gear you’re in, how much gas is in your tank, how fast you’re traveling, and when your next service is required.

Most dashboards today have warning lights designed to alert you when it’s necessary to visit your service shop and check out some critical operating systems. In the case of a vehicle, the engineers have distilled a few complex operating areas down to a set of easily recognizable indicators. A driver is alerted with an important directive that they visit their service advisor, who can determine whether it’s just a simple adjustment needed or something far more serious that may cause the vehicle to fail.

It works exactly the same way with your nonprofit. Your board and CEO should develop an easily digestible operating dashboard of the most important indicators of the administrative and programmatic health of your organization.

Your dashboard is the one document that provides the board with immediate and illuminating insight into what’s working and what isn’t. And when properly designed and communicated, it creates a very real sense of engagement and momentum.

According to Stanford University researchers — despite the copious amounts of information that board members receive — nearly half of all directors report having little or no confidence that the performance data they’re regularly reviewing accurately measures the success of their organization. This is why employing a High Impact dashboard in your organization is essential to keeping your nonprofit’s plan on track.

If you’re curious about the one we use at Impact, check out the excerpt below:

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