• Cathy R Cirina-Chiu says:

    gorgeous updates!!!!

  • Brenda Malone says:

    What a dramatic difference. The new dashboard tells a story at-a-glance beautifully!

    Great job, Kristen!

  • Leave a Reply

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    Better Storytelling with the Same Data: Upgrade that Board Packet!

    Updated on: Aug 10th, 2021
    Dashboards, Reports
    , , , , , , ,
    Kristen Summers used her knowledge gained to revamp her organization's grants documents.

    Kristen Summers is the Senior Grants Manager at Saint Luke’s Foundation and a Depict Data Studio student. She emailed me an example of how she’s revamped her organizations grants docket and I knew I had to showcase her hard work. Keep up the great work Kristen! – Ann


    I work at a grantmaking organization and it is my job to update the board three times a year on the grant applications we are considering for awards, the grantmaking budget, and other information.

    You will see below an example of the grants docket (slate of grant proposals under consideration) as well as a grantmaking budget summary. I am almost too embarrassed to show these!

    Fortunately, after completing about 70% of the Dashboard Design course, I was able to revitalize a tired spreadsheet into an information powerhouse and a colorful budget visualization into a professional presentation.

    It’s the same information, just presented differently!

    The Docket

    Before: Gridlines Galore and No Visualizations

    This docket was printed on 11×17 paper for easier readability and called a “placemat”.

    Gridlines, some highlighted cells in yellow to draw the eye.

    A lot of information and a bit overwhelming to take in.

    Applications were presented alphabetical by organization and not grouped in any way.

    The grants docket before was gridlines galore and no visualizations.

    After: Fewer Columns, Bigger Impact

    When I started the Dashboard Design course with Ann, my intention was to revamp our organizational dashboard and not even this document (once I get that done, I will have to write another blog!).

    But the course showed me what little changes I could make to have a big impact.

    Although we do not compare numbers over time in this document as it is just a list of our applications, I was still able to use some helpful visualizations, icons, colors, and conditional formatting to tell a story.

    The after example number one had fewer columns and a bigger impact.
    The after example number two had fewer columns and a bigger impact.

    A summary of the changes made:

    • Added logo and subtitle
    • Used brand colors in headings and their corresponding icon
    • Minimized the use of gridlines
    • Removed highlighting of a column but used font colors for key info
    • Grouped applicants together by type of grant (general operating vs. project)
    • Hid the column with the organization budget, but added an icon set of pie charts via conditional formatting
    • Correct alignment for numbers vs. text
    • Deviation bar visualization to show the percent change of the current request from their previous award instead of just expecting the reader to do the math
    • Added a budget summary chart at the bottom

    This resulted in a much more well-received document with lots of compliments from board members!

    I have begun creating a cohesive aesthetic for all the documents I produce for the board to give them the information they need but in the most streamlined way possible.

    The Budget

    In 2019 I developed the below budget visualization to up my game a bit from a spreadsheet that board members had a hard time understanding.

    This was an improvement over the previous version, but Ann’s course challenged me to turn it up a few notches.


    The old budget was hard for board members to understand.


    The revamped budget has less text and more icons to illustrate where the organization is in the budget, which the board members appreciated.

    There were not many “big” changes to this in terms of conditional formatting or visualizations, but it has definitely been toned down.

    The biggest change was that I replaced the text explanations with icons to illustrate where we are in the budget, which the board members appreciated.

    As you can see, there is that cohesive title, subtitle, font, and color choice to keep the branding in line.

    Take the Time to Take the Course!

    I am pleased with what I am able to do now that I have completed Dashboard Design. The lessons were fun and I was able to put my skills to the test in a matter of weeks!

    Now I am enrolled in Simple Spreadsheets which will really provide me a good base as my role stretches me to do more community engagement data evaluation and learning. Thank you, Ann!

    Connect with Kristen

    LinkedIn: @summerskristen

    Lift every Voice 216: https://www.facebook.com/216lift

    Saint Luke’s Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/saintlukesfoundationcleveland

    More about Kristen Summers
    Kristen joined the Saint Luke’s Foundation in February 2016 as Grants Manager and was promoted to Senior Grants Manager in 2020. Kristen appreciates streamlined systems with an equity focus. She knows that grantmaking need not be overly complicated to achieve impact. Kristen is always asking her colleagues “how are we going to use this data that we’re collecting?” and striving for increased knowledge sharing throughout the community. Kristen is a long-standing member and proponent of PEAK Grantmaking and has served in a leadership capacity of the PEAK Mideast Chapter since 2018. Prior to working in philanthropy, Kristen worked in the international education field, both directing a small English as a second language school and leading a team in the international admissions department at a large public university, recruiting international students and processing their applications. She also spent considerable time volunteering in animal rescue and honing her grant writing skills, which served as the catalyzing force to work in the nonprofit sector. Kristen earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in French Translation from Kent State University. While not working, Kristen enjoys spending time with her husband and energetic toddler, hiking the many beautiful trails in Ohio, or just putting her organizational skills to the test inside her home.


  • Cathy R Cirina-Chiu says:

    gorgeous updates!!!!

  • Brenda Malone says:

    What a dramatic difference. The new dashboard tells a story at-a-glance beautifully!

    Great job, Kristen!

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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