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How to Pick the Right KPIs for your Dashboard

Top performing nonprofits use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor the effectiveness of their programs and growth strategies as well as determine the progress made towards ambitious goals.  Their commitment to metrics and milestones helps these high performers stand out from the crowd. You can use the steps and examples below to get started on creating KPIs for your organization.  

Steps to develop your KPIs:

Step 1: Define the Problem and the Scope.

Begin with the question “What problem are you solving?” and then look at the full scope of those who need your services. From there, ask yourself, “What does success look like long term? How much can we bite off in 5 years if everything goes well?”

This example shows how Treehouse, a top performing nonprofit, answers these questions. Note the numerical proof they have around the need for their services.

“Every year in Washington State, only 49% of foster youth graduate high school on time. Dropping out leads to higher rates of poverty, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, and self-harm. And each dropout costs our state almost one million dollars in higher social spending and lost tax revenue. That’s a new $400 million dollar problem we are adding every year.”

“In five years, Treehouse aims to support every foster youth in high school across the State—that’s 2,500 students, almost a 175% increase in our services.”

Step 2:  Collaborate and Share

Involving all levels of staff, your board and your investors enables the organization to choose the right KPIs.  It also ensures buy-in to the goals and measurements.  Share your work with your team and ask what they think.  Then move on to your most dedicated investors and volunteers for another perspective.  Revise your thinking based on the most valuable feedback you receive.  

Step 3:  Implement and Dashboard

Just as choosing the right things to measure, reporting on a regular basis in a clear, consistent manner is equally as important. A dashboard will provide valuable information for key decision makers.

Need help getting started on your dashboard? Download our dashboard template here.

If you follow these steps, you'll be well on your way to joining the ranks of the top performing nonprofits. For more information, contact us at


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