#data management #nonprofits

Responsive dashboard design

for non-profits to manage and achieve donation goals

About data management in non-profits

Nowadays, data is everywhere. Data management dashboard systems help businesses and organizations be more efficient. Non-profit organizations also have to deal with a ton of data of various activities. Especially, having the data with donations clear presented and communicated is critical to the organization and all stakeholders.

But, the majority of non-profits are working with excel tables. Understanding the donation data is a time-consuming task for many non-profit stakeholders who don’t have finance-related skills. A data management dashboard would help non-profits solve the problem and increase the trustworthiness of their stakeholders.

In this study project, I want to focus on the donation area of non-profits and come up with solutions aimed at easy management and better performance.

UX Research
UX Design
Usability test

July 2021 (4 weeks)


Figma, Whimsical, Maze, Slack, Google (Doc, Sheet, Drive, Meet), Adobe CS, Zoom

This is a fictitious project at UX Academy from Designlab.

Project goals

About data mangement dashboards

Most companies are usually using third-party services of data management dashboards. There are quite a few established companies that specialized in data management dashboards. Microsoft Power BI is one of the popular systems on the market now. But, the needs of non-profits are different from enterprises. My idea for this fictitious project is to create a dashboard prototype of MVP that is customized for the non-profits’ needs.

The process


Learning about data management & donation ​

The research goal is to understand what information is relevant for donation management, and how the workflow for donation looks like so that I can design an intuitive and fluent experience for them on mobile and desktop devices. It is also important to learn how businesses and organizations are working with data management software/systems.

Research objectives

Understand donation data & dashboard systems

The research on the annual reports and financial statements of non-profits gave me a basic understanding of how non-profits operating in the donation area. By looking up the popular dashboard products on the market, clarified my focus for features and functionals.

Talk to non-profit volunteers & professionals experienced in Power BI

Talking to 4 interviewees gave me many insights. The interviewees are experienced both in working with dashboards and non-profits. Their experiences showed me how many non-profits operating nowadays, and most data management products for companies may be too “complicated” in features for non-profits’ needs.


Many non-profits are still relaid on the excel table to manage the donations and all kinds of data. Sometimes even manually. The learning curve will be huge from excel to an interactive dashboard. Therefore, keep the design simple and intuitive is the key.

The old school style in data management causes a lack of transparency which causes discontent in the organization. The team wishes to have a dashboard that gives them the update of the current situation, and the possibility of better communication and transparency.

Research Key Takeaways

Pain points

There are difficulties in communication about what to do and what needs to achieve (for both the board and the members).

Situations changes often. It makes managing nonprofits more time-consuming.

User Behavior

Users use desktop/laptop computers to edit dashboards or to view detailed information.

Dashboards are mainly used by management, and tablets are their primary tool.

Users tend to use mobile devices to view the dashboard when they are on the go or in a meeting.

Features like drill-down and filters are essential in helping users understand the data.


Users want to have their personalized dashboard view with the information they want to see.

Users want to have the ability to change the look & feel, the placement of cards, and close/reopen cards on their dashboard.


Dashboards can help users to readjust priorities and work more efficiently by integrating notifications or alerts.

Dashboards can go beyond data management by providing a daily to-do list and save users time in managing tasks.


Features to focus on

Non-profits that can afford a dashboard system are more likely to operate on a global or international scale. They may not need high-end data analysis graphs like it is in the businesses but will need features to boost performance in fundraising and improve teamwork. These features will also add value to the dashboard system.

Who is the dashboard user in a non-profit?

Base on the research, managers or employees in senior positions is the person who uses data management dashboards in their day-to-day work. Therefore, the persona presents an account manager of a non-profit as the user I will design for. She is responsible for donations, leads a team, and often reports to the board.

Visualize the interaction and flows of the features

The user flow and task flows are focused on the experience in manage donation data and achieve goals. Because of the time constraint, the user flow only mapped out the related user journey about donation management and goal setting.


Explore dashboard navigation & create the first version of the UI kit​

The goal of sketching is to explore different ways of organizing navigation and utility features. It was important to me to find out how to keep the navigation simple and useful for non-profits before going into details. For the UI kit, I decided to start with an existing non-profit. The idea is to try out how much a dashboard product needs to providing branding-related customization.

The first version of Hi-Fi Wireframes

I created the first version of high-fidelity wireframes aligned to the non-profit’s brand style of choice. But, my goal was to create an MVP that provides services to the target non-profits. By the end, I realized that it was too much in customizing brand style. Before spending time making big changes in the visuals, I decided to test the usability first.


Test methodology

• Remote user test via zoom call and recording (2 participants)
• Maze usablity test (16 participants)

Test objectives

Test finding

I created a prototype with the first version of high-fidelity wireframes. The usability test showed unequivocal confusion about the placement of the chart filter and business area feature. Users either expecting them in other places or couldn’t related to the icon. Also, there is an information hierarchy issue about OKRs needs to be fixed. Users like the overall look & feel but have difficulty with the contrast. The usability test showed me the design needs a big iteration.


Pain Points



Why the change in UI?

I wasn’t happy with the first version of wireframes because of the brand customization solution. The usability test also showed me the problem with contrast which I fully agree. Before change the design, I did an A/B test with a light and dark navigation bar. 20 of 26 answers go to the darker user interface. Participants mentioned that they like the contrast. And the dark navigation bar was also much easier to read. So, I decided to create a dark mood dashboard for the second prototyping. 

Dashboard in dark mood for prototype

The new user interface has a dark and a light mood. It allows users (the non-profits) to add their logo and customize the signal color aligned with their branding. Other elements and colors stay the same. With the time constraints, I only created the dark user interface for the prototyping.


The prototype shows the typical workflow a manager in non-profits could be. The user started the dashboard and got a notification on an OKR. From there, she created a task for the team. After checking the task dashboard, she explored the donation dashboard as a google sheet for a board presentation.

Conclusion & next steps

With the iteration, the dashboard design of non-profits is now on the right track. It is time to start creating a full-scope prototype of the MVP. It was the right decision to test early even the wireframes were not good. On top of designing the features, it was also challenging to find the balance for customizing the dashboard and maintain consistency for good usability.

Next steps

Week 5
Week 6

What I've learned

Test early to gain insights for improvement

A dashboard contains a ton of information that users could easily feel overwhelmed. In the first wireframing phase, I got stuck in creating a user interface with good usability and flexibility for brand style adjustments. So, I decided to do the usability test even the design wasn't good at all. With the insights from the usability test, I was able to rethink and optimize both the features and the user interface.