It’s the time of year for lists. Whether it be a grocery list for a (smaller than usual) holiday dinner, a shopping list for gifts for your family, or simply a lengthy to-do list for the week, there are a lot of items competing for your attention as we reach the end of 2020. For most working in social good, that list also extends to two crucial items: end-of-year fundraising and board meeting prep. It can be challenging to find the time needed to truly dive into the data that drives the development of donor outreach materials and presentations, but without that information it can be difficult to speak to the current landscape and the strategic direction for next year. Both of these items are areas where insight can lead to stronger donor conversion rates.


So time is precious, but we know data reporting and analytics are crucial to your success. What to do? At UpMetrics, we prioritized the development of dashboards that streamline reporting and provide easy access to data that will inform your decision-making. As you prepare for end-of-year activities, we put together three use cases from our partners to show how you can be using data visualizations to save time and improve transparency with both donors and your board. 


1. Dashboards can drive more efficient fundraising, connecting you to more funds.


The first use case we’ll look to focuses on fundraising. Like many of you, Nelly Sapinski at Jamestown Community Center is wearing many hats and stressed for time. Nelly is the Executive Director and responsible for preparing the data to meet proposal requirements.


Previously the time it took to prepare the data required would be prohibitive in sending out a number of proposals. However, with the creation of dashboards, Nelly is able to easily and quickly create visualizations that can be adjusted based on different factors. Since all the data is in one centralized place, it’s as easy as selecting different filters. 


With this saved time, Nelly was successful in sending out a higher volume of proposals, ultimately raising $400k in funding. When pressed for time to run and evaluate your data, dashboards are a quick, easy tool that present your data in a digestible format. The key and first step here for you is having all of your data in one place, in the same format, so you can easily translate the information into visuals.


"As the Executive Director,  I understand the power of impact data and the crucial role it plays in winning funding for my organization. With the UpMetrics dashboards that update with real-time data,  I can quickly access the data I need for each application, allowing me to [maximize my time]. Because I was able to spend more time sending out proposals, and less time in spreadsheets, I raised over $400k for Jamestown Community Center."

-Nelly Sapinski


Another benefit of having your data in one place? Quickly create data visualizations that speak to your progress toward outcomes for the annual report, your website and emails, and board meetings year-round. This last area leads us to our next use case.


2. Dashboards provide the insight needed to drive true collaboration with your board.


The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund is focused on advising and supporting their donor-advised funds so that more grants are being awarded across a variety of impact themes and geographies. This is historically a priority for JCF and their board, but given events in 2020 and the increased need for support in many of their communities, it has reached a heightened state of importance. 


JCF and the board have committed to close communication to track trends from month to month and year to year, ensuring the donor-advised funds within JCF are utilizing their dollars to maximize impact. Guiding these conversations and informing any projected impact are dashboards. Since the dashboards are built to be external facing, it is easy for all stakeholders to access the data and understand implications. Some examples of questions they’re asking themselves are:


Is grantmaking up this year compared to previous areas? If so, is it unique to specific areas? Ex. Region of grantee, thematic area of the grantee, county of the DAF.


What percentage of grants are specifically around COVID-19?


Who are our top grantees and how has that changed year-over-year?


In 2020, current events demanded that many impact organizations pivot from traditional areas of focus. JCF pivoted as needed, and prioritized communication with their board to ensure all stakeholders had insight into the changing landscape. This insight lends to more productive strategic conversations as JCF looks to 2021. 


3. The insight that dashboards provide can fuel long-term strategic planning.


The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation has over 10 years of data around their programs to improve the overall health and well-being of Illinois residents. When establishing the tools needed to better use data to become more data-driven, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation focused on the creation of dashboards that answered key questions to inform their progress toward goals and ultimately their desired outcomes. Examples include: What does success look like for the program and participants? What are current challenges with data collection? What story do we want to tell and who’s the audience?


A key point of differentiation in how Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation approached these dashboards is they didn’t just build them to learn from historical data - they built dashboards for a new program as well. The Foundation prioritized the evaluation of their reach and impact of their grants as a whole. To do this well, they started small. They started by building a dashboard for one marquee program, which allowed Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation to build a baseline before scaling the dashboards to include all of their data. It ensured they were collecting and displaying the right data that answered those key questions flagged earlier.


This data-driven approach also applied to a new initiative launching this month, putting touchless water refill stations in schools. Prior to launch, the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation team wanted to visualize its grant application data to get a sense of who and where they funded, connecting them to the information needed to identify areas in need. UpMetrics developed a new dashboard focused on county-level mapping, and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation used this information to scale with intentionality. 


Your data continues to evolve, as you build new programs and as the needs of your community change. Dashboards can fuel your organization’s growth as you collect more data, providing the information necessary to build a long-term strategy for change. When Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation met with their Board and displayed their data in clear, compelling visuals, it opened new doors for conversation around the possibilities of what can be accomplished with their programs. 


While our partners have the advantages of dashboards in the UpMetrics platform, established with the support of the UpMetrics team and set up to automatically update with the latest data, this approach can be done with your current resources like Excel as well. As seen with these examples, each with different goals and each in different phases of their data journey, the key is clarity around your goals so you’re asking the right questions of your data and pulling the information that can answer those questions. 



Learn more about building a strategy around your data with these resources.

Kim Lynes
Post by Kim Lynes
December 8, 2020