Monitor your organization’s heart rate

Last week after my Fitness Boot Camp session, I ran out to Target and bought my first heart rate monitor, which comes in the form of a strap that you fashion around your chest and a wrist watch. I made this purchase because according to my personal trainer I need to intensify my workouts and keep my heart rate in a particular target zone. This, of course, got me wondering. “Do they make heart rate monitors for non-profit organizations?”

While you might think this is a silly question, I urge you to stop and think about it for just one moment:

  • Shouldn’t board volunteers have a tool to monitor the health of their organization?
  • Wouldn’t the annual campaign leadership team appreciate something to track the collective progress of volunteer solicitors?
  • Couldn’t board and staff benefit from a tool that monitors implementation of any number of activities ranging from strategic planning to the health of the agency’s comprehensive resource development program?

I think that there is enormous benefits in developing such a tool, and the good news is that they do exist. While you cannot go online to and purchase a heart rate monitor for your non-profit organization, you can roll up your sleeves and create a DASHBOARD or SCORECARD that will do the same thing.

When consulting with Boys & Girls Clubs in Indiana on annual campaign implementation last year, I worked with a number of those organizations on developing a simple dashboard using Excel to track campaign progress. Typically, there were six to eight graphical indicators on theĀ front page of their dashboard. Each indicator measured one aspect of their campaign that they thought was important enough to track. Here are a few examples of what they tracked:

  • Board solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
  • Community face-to-face solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
  • Targeted mail solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
  • New donor acquisition – actual vs. goal
  • Donor renewal – actual vs. goal
  • LYBUNT renewal – actual vs. goal
  • Individual volunteer solicitor progress – number of pledge cards assigned vs. number of worked & returned cards

Indicator and monitoring tools like dashboards and scorecards allow non-profits to create a sense of accountability and urgency, which are two elements of volunteer engagement that many non-profits find difficult to generate. Additionally, it provides staff and volunteers with a management tool that helps create the necessary performance to avoid failures.

Finally, the good news is that these tools can be used for almost any project/activity. Here are a few links I’ve dug up that might help you develop your own organizational heart rate monitors:

How does your organization monitor its overall health? Annual campaign? Special events or projects? What have you tracked using your monitoring tools? Please use the comment box to share because we can all learn from each other.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847