This month’s contributor: Jennifer Eichenberg, president of the ISPI Michigan chapter and proprietor of Eichenberg & Associates in Plymouth, Michigan
It is up to a chapter’s board to ensure many things get done in a timely manner, from scheduling speakers, updating membership, communicating to members and non-members, balancing bank accounts to the many long-term tasks such as succession planning. In this of frenzy activity of keeping the chapter running, board members can easily forget about the things that truly make a chapter hum–membership and finances.

The Michigan chapter’s board, aware of keeping our concentration on the things that matter, implemented a chapter dashboard. Our chapter dashboard recaps key information that is set at the top of our board meeting agenda. It is prominent and it is revealing. For example, instead of waiting for the vice president of finance to give her report on whether we made money or lost money on the previous program or sorting through this information in the income statement, we have this information recorded on our dashboard.

Our chapter decided to focus on three key areas. Each month we collect or compute the following information.

  • Membership
    • Our current membership count, including regular and student memberships to-date
    • The number of new or renewing memberships during the previous month
    • The number of expired memberships from the previous month
    • The number of expiring memberships in the upcoming month
  • Financial
    • Dollar amount currently in our bank account
    • The profit or loss from the previous program
  • Program
    • The number of people who attended (separated between members and guests)
    • The number of fees waived
    • The number of students attended (including the number of student members in attendance)

Our dashboard shows both the current and the previous month’s information. This “at-a-glance” information allows us to focus on the key metrics at the start of our board meeting that help us evaluate how we are doing. With the board agenda emailed several days before the meeting, board members know before the meeting how we are doing from month-to-month. Previously, we would all wait for this information to be revealed when it was reported, whether at the start, middle, or end of the board meeting. This limited our time to reflect or make connections or see trends from month to month. The dashboard has enabled our chapter board to have a deeper conversation during the board meeting about addressing troubling trends we see on the dashboard.

Even when board meetings follow the agenda, there can be irrelevant data shared that can be cumbersome to sort through. The value we have received is best summed up by board member Bonnie Beresford:

“Volunteer time is at a premium, and when something as simple as a dashboard can help us better guide the change and save meeting time, we all wish we’d put one in place sooner.”

 Perhaps your chapter may also benefit from developing your own dashboard to measure the things that matter most.

If you have an article about your chapter that you would like to contribute to the Chapter Corner, contact Gary DePaul at gary_depaul@yahoo.com for more information.