5 Reasons Why a Church Dashboard is Essential

By: Shane Bender

We all use dashboards in our lives. You probably think of it in terms of driving so you know how fast you are going or how much gas you have left. There is a scoreboard in sports, which is absolutely necessary.

I am working with a church, and one of the first things I noticed was that there was no dashboard for the elders and ministers to review. Before you tune me out, please read on because this piece is helpful for any organization, whether it be For-Profit or Not-For-Profit. Also, maybe you attend a church or give to a ministry. If not, you probably know someone who would find this useful. Churches have an abundance of information with the different systems and databases. The information can be easily manipulated into an easy dashboard so everyone knows what is going on at the 30,000-foot level. If something looks strange, a well-constructed dashboard can lead us to a quicker resolution to the problem.

My mission is to develop a good dashboard, but what are the best metrics? Why is a good dashboard essential?

1. Attendees are the key driver. 
Obviously, attendance is a key metric to track. Attendance should be broken down in the following ways:

  • Weekly Services
  • Small Groups
  • Volunteers
  • Children
  • Youth
  • Male Adults
  • Female Adults
  • People leaving their church
  • First-time guests

Please check out the downloadable PDF called Operational Metrics for Churches for more information.

2. A dashboard can simplify contributions

Separate contributions by key categories such as Operating, Building, Mission Trips, Benevolence, and Receipts for Studies/Activities.  Below are some interesting metrics

  • Total contributions / Attendance
  • Contributions / # of Givers
  • Number of First-Time Givers
  • Total number of givers
  • Large givers over a certain amount
  • Giving by Leaders or Volunteers
  • Compare giving categories in a monthly trend as well as a year-to-date comparison to the prior year.

3. Cash flow is important. Where is it going?

A Cash Flow Statement is helpful in understanding where the cash is going. Also, look at the cash trends in the key bank accounts such as Savings or the Building Fund. A graphical representation is helpful.  Run a calculation of how many months of cash is on hand when taking into account operating expenses and mortgage payments.

4. Ministry and spiritual growth

For a church to be successful, it is important that the ministry and the people are growing spiritually. How can we measure that?  Some ideas are the following:

  • Baptisms
  • Number of new believers
  • Number of leaders of small groups
  • Number of volunteers
  • Average giving per member

5. Expenses and Budgets
It is important to create a budget for each ministry. Then compare actual contributions and expenses to budget. Also, compare contributions to last year.  A graphical representation for showing contributions and expenses over time compared to budget is helpful.  Summary expense categories should be reviewed and calculated as a percentage of total expenses.

  • Personnel (salaries, benefits, etc.).
  • Administration (operating expenses).
  • Property and Equipment (utilities, insurance on property, maintenance)
  • Outreach (missions, evangelism, social events, etc.).
  • Direct ministry (the various ministries of the church such as children, youth, counseling, adult, men, women, etc.).
  • Church Expansion Expenses
  • Debt

Check out FreeChurchAccounting.com for more information.

Conclusion

A good dashboard should be kept to one page if at all possible. This can be a challenge since there are so many metrics. It is important to  know the metrics and graphs that are essential for the ministry of the church and to measure and meet the goals.

In summary, ensure the one-page dashboard shows attendance, contributions, cash flow, ministry and spiritual growth, and finally expenses compared to budgets.

Once everyone understands the dashboard, they can spend more time going and making disciples of Christ.

What are some other good church metrics to use in a dashboard? 

 

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