Rethinking The Data We Use To Motivate Board Members

It’s no secret that board members are up to their eyeballs in rough news. While there’s no way to avoid it, that doesn’t mean we can’t play the hand we’re dealt and win. For instance, introducing data to keep them motivated and focused on longer term strategic thinking is a great way to pivot from traditional “how much” or “how big” type of reports. There are even opportunities for expanding their scope of information used for healthy data driven decision making.

One specific area to consider is focusing on user profiles.

For example, when designing holiday cards for my Venture Platform clients, they traditionally include some metrics from their Google Analytics account, such as the total number of users that visited their site over the year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, for most groups that piece of data tends to induce anxiety, even if they understand it’s a normal expectation in the wake of lower event activity.

Alternatively, focusing on data that educates them about who your patrons are helps keep them focused on mission driven outcomes.

In my holiday card example, I used the organization’s metrics to build a thumbnail of the most common site visitor. All that’s need are two dimensions: age group and gender.

From your Google Analytics dashboard, navigate to:

  1. Audience > Demographics > Age
  2. Audience > Demographics > Gender

It doesn’t take long to see where you can take this, especially if you start using secondary dimensions. You can begin to confirm or dispel something like the notion that older patrons don’t use mobile (spoiler: in most cases, they do).

If you don’t already have experience using secondary dimensions, the good news is they have a low learning curve. Here’s an article with step-by-step instructions I wrote for

GA Skills For Creating A Data Driven Culture: Secondary Dimensions

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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