10 Tips for Mastering Your Grantmaking Dashboards

The dashboard on your car gives you real-time information that helps you make better decisions about your driving. Are you going too fast? Is there enough air in your tires? Is it time for an oil change?

The dashboards on your grant management system give you a similar snapshot of your grantmaking programs. Are you reaching the types of organizations you want to? Are your programs on track? Do any applications need attention?

In their 2023 bbcon session, Blackbaud University instructors Chrissy Haskell and Henry Wiencek walked attendees through their favorite dashboard functionality. They showed how a few easy customizations can put important and actionable data at your fingertips.

What Are Dashboards in Your Grant Management System?

The dashboards act as the welcome screen in your grant management system. Your dashboard is made up of different visualization options, including charts, links lists, tables, and notes that put the information you need front and center when you log in.

From these dashboards, you can drill in to get more detail, such as why three application reviews are overdue or how your funding totals have changed year-over-year for a specific category.

Here are a few of Chrissy and Henry’s favorite ways to make your dashboards work for you.

10 Tips for Making the Most of Your GMS Dashboards

What makes dashboards so valuable is that they can be customized based on the user and their role. Here are 10 tips for customizing your grant management dashboards so they save you time and make your life easier.

  1. Make information easy to access for new employees: Customized dashboards are great for new hires and getting people up to speed quickly on the information they need. Use a link list to make important information easy to find, such as your organization’s website and your vendor’s support options. You can include links to other parts of your system or outside of the software.
  2. Customize the information based on what you need: Change your dashboards based on what is most important to you over time. As your goals and priorities change, so should your dashboards. Review the parts and data that make up your dashboards regularly and decide if the information is still serving you.
  3. Experiment with different ways to show information: You may prefer to see pending applications as a list, or it might be better for you to see a graph of where applications are in progress—in review, decision made, communication sent. The dashboard parts enable you to try different chart types so you can find the best fit for your role and how you like to review data.
  4. Make sure each tab has a theme: There is a lot of data in your grant management system, and it can be overwhelming if it’s not organized well. When you outgrow a single dashboard, add tabs to pull information together on a specific theme, such as applications, review processes, and historical funding trends.
  5. Select dashboard parts to help organize your day: Use the dashboard to create a to-do list and keep your day organized. Filter activities to the information that is relevant to you, such as a specific program area or status.
  6. Think about how you consume information: Most people who are accustomed to reading in English automatically process information from left to right. Organize your dashboard with your most important information in the top left part of your screen. It also helps to keep connected information close together, so your brain isn’t trying to context switch as you try to locate different charts.
  7. Add context to your dashboard parts: When you add a new part to your dashboard, use the title, header and footer text to add context. This will help you see at a glance the filters and restrictions you put on each chart, such as the time frame or a specific impact area.
  8. Keep your mission statement front and center: Your mission statement is your organization’s center of gravity. No matter if you’ve been a part of the organization for six months or 16 years, it’s always good to have that touchstone to guide your decisions. Add an image of your mission statement to your dashboard so you see it every day.
  9. Use notes and links for FAQs: The notes and link list parts are a great way to keep common policies or procedures visible and easily accessible. Whether you list steps you like to follow for a process only you do or link to your internal controls manual, make the information easy to find instead of guessing at the answer.
  10. Create consistency by sharing dashboards: If you are an administrator, share your dashboards with your team. You can copy a dashboard to another person’s workspace or modify another person’s dashboard. For example, you can give a member of your Executive Team access to links they always ask for or make sure everyone is taking advantage of the correct filters for their charts.

Create a Grant Management System That Grows with You

As a grantmaking organization, your GMS is a crucial part of your workflows and creating an impact. Find a solution that can be easily configured to meet your needs, both now and in the future. This includes dashboards that give you data to easily track trends and understand how your community is changing.

With Blackbaud Grantmaking, you get a grant management system that is designed for funders and intuitive enough that you can start getting insights right out of the box. Learn more about dashboards and reporting in Blackbaud Grantmaking with our white paper, 3 Ways Dashboards Help Grantmakers Make Sense of Their Data.