Yesterday I participated in part 2 of a three-part conversation about alternative ways to talk about overhead/core costs for non-profits. (Learn more about part 1 here) While most people agree that a single figure does not do justice to explaining the impact a non-profit organization is having, there is little agreement on what does.
Two interesting analogies that came out of that webinar that may apply to other work you are doing:
1. People can rely on multiple variables when making a complex decision — it does not have to all come down to one data point. As an example: people consider many factors when buying a house, but sites like Zillow and Trulia present a large amount of information in a readable way. Instead of focusing on narrowing down the information you share, can you focus instead on the presentation of your data?
2. Think about nutrition labels as your model. All consumer packaged food uses the same set of key variables to communicate the key nutritional metrics about the food. They are presented in a way that is standardized and understood, even though they represent a huge variety of products. How can you limit your data sharing to the most important elements and then develop a common format to share across your services/products/etc.?
Sometimes we use complexity as an excuse. Instead of doing the hard work to find an elegantly simple solution, we throw up our hands and claim that something is too complex. The next time you are tempted to use that rationale, put a box of cereal next to a can of soup and a package of cheese and look at their labels.
Source: Jacob Harold, President & CEO GuideStar, GuideStar Conversation #2, #Overhead Myth, December 19, 2016