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Dashboards or Charts?
27 July 2007, by , in Rants and Kudos, 3 comments

On his Membership Marketing Blog, Tony Rossell has a post about membership dashboards. He provides a link to a chart that shows all kinds of membership information. I noted in the comments section:

"…I must take exception to the use of "dashboard" with the example you provide. A dashboard, at a glance, provides instant information to the reader. For example, when I glance (not study) my car's dashboard, I can instantly tell if I'm going 60mph vs. 20mph by the direction of the speedometer dial.

The charts you provide are just that: charts. Dashboards give you an instant reading; charts require studying."

This isn't the first time this has come up for me. Several weeks ago I had a lengthy discussion with an esteemed membership colleague of mine, who was arguing the same point as Tony. I contended then, and I contend now, a dashboard gives you instant information, at a glance. If you have to study it, it's not a dashboard. And incidentally, dashboard information should be up-to-the-minute. Imagine if your car's dashboard provided you information about how much gas you had yesterday, instead of how much gas you have this minute.

This is not to belittle the need for the charts that Tony describes. Those data sets are important. But let's not call 'em dashboards; let's call them charts or reports.

About author:
  • Good points. Do you have any examples of dashboards that are useful for tracking membership? Tony

  • Wes Trochlil

    Good question, Tony. My sense is that for most associations, membership itself does not lend itself to “true” dashboards. That is, because membership numbers do not typically change radically in short periods of time, a dashboard is unnecessary. I see dashboards more frequently used for event registration and fundraising, where numbers can change by the minute.

  • Wes — We have redesigned the dashboard with a visual, at a glance approach. Thanks for your feedback. Let me know if you would like a copy. Tony

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