Foundation Dashboards & Scorecards

Tactical Philanthropy is currently covering the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference with the help of a blog team. This is a guest post by Gale Berkowitz of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

By Gale Berkowitz

image Imagine this:  Your boss asks you a question about some aspect of foundation performance. You know you have the data somewhere about this.  But how can you access it in real-time (rather than the usual:  “Yes, we have that.  Let me get back to you.”)?

Now imagine this scenario:  “Yes, we have that.  Let me show you right here.”

Our session design grew out of some looming questions we had:

  • How do we assure that we are effective organizations/grantmakers?
  • How can we better assess the effectiveness of our operations and Impact?
  • How do we make this useful and accessible?

As foundations, we tend to collect a lot of information.  We may even have a purpose for collecting all these data.  But few of us have interfaces that help us use the data in meaningful ways to assess our effectiveness.  This session was also personally relevant for me as the Packard Foundation has been using dashboards for over 5 years and we are now ready to explore the Next Generation tools for us. 

Our session on dashboards and scorecards was designed to “take a look under the hood” of some of these tools.  Roberto Creminini from the Barr Foundation, Kevin Rafter from the Irvine Foundation, and Martha Piper from Rare, gave us a look to tools they use.

We started by taking a quick poll of the audience about their experience with dashboards and scorecards by creating a human dashboard to visualize our collective experience.  Everyone (over 100) had some experience with these tools.  However, only a few had gone so far as to put one of these tools in front of stakeholders outside their organization (such as grantees), AND had a positive experience.

The Barr Foundation ran an internal competition for a tagline for their dashboard and these are some of the suggestions (to give you an idea of responses to these tools):

  • Data can run, but they can’t hide
  • Real money, real stats, in real time
  • When you need to know, where’s the dough?
  • If loving data is wrong, I don’t want to be right
  • Supposing is good, but finding out is better (Mark Twain)
  • The Dashboard: Before you bang your head against the wall
  • You think you’re high-performing? The data might say otherwise

What would be your tagline?

(FYI, you can find all the presentations at:  Search under Dashboards and Scorecards.)