Lisa Wilder, Research Director
United Way Worldwide is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit organization. It conducts nearly a dozen annual and biennial worldwide studies to gauge performance and analyze outcomes in all aspects of its business, including fundraising activities, operating efficiency, and the effective utilization of human capital. Dissemination and uptake of the information from United Way studies to a network of 13,000 employees was challenging at best. The performance data the organization was sharing was presented in static, tabular monthly reports, which were not conducive to helping people interpret, understand and immediately apply the findings.
United Way launched the PerformanceLink Portal Project as a self-service analytics environment that allows its tens of thousands of users, regardless of their technical abilities, to quickly visualize the data in scatterplot graphs with color-coded quintile scores to reveal performance by population groupings for any dimension they want to see. They can generate scorecards depicting variables such as volunteer involvement, investor trends, impact offerings, or operating efficiency. And, they can view dashboards that highlight these metrics at a particular United Way affiliate or see graphs that depict how they are doing on a variety of dimensions relative to their peers.
United Way is better equipped with the insights needed to serve 61 million people each year with targeted and relevant services. The organization visualizes information through dashboards, drilling down from an entire region to an individual United Way affiliate, using location analytics to depict the data geographically. These dynamic displays make it easy to see how each affiliate is performing relative to its peers. Detecting patterns in the data not only enables better-targeted and more successful fundraising initiatives, but also allows insight into how communities allocate funds to maintain and promote critical health, education, and financially-stable work.