Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's the Trend - Can We Govern Without Knowing?

One of my foundation clients contracted with a well-known national nonprofit to work with a number of their grantees last year to review their financial situations and provide the leadership of each organization with some insights into their efforts.

The smaller organizations, in particular, found the most benefit from consultant's approach of showing five years of information for all of the expenses and revenues, in various types of groupings. They could see where they were consistently strong or consistently weak and what impact various changes in people, programs, or the economy had on their work.

From my experience, too few nonprofits look at their work through the lens of multiple year trends, in finances or anything else. I hear common concerns of our nonprofit boards micro-managing or making important decisions without key information or not being strategic in their thinking.

It would seem ideal to spend more time in board meetings looking at trending information and less at isolated snapshots of how much money we have in the bank today or how many clients we served this month. I find that using trend data pushes the dialogue to a higher, more strategic perspective - just what we want for most of our boards.

Does your organization look at trends or settle for snapshots of today? If you use trend data, tell us how you use it and offer your thoughts on how other organizations can improve their own efforts with this strategy.


No comments: