How To Develop The Best Impact Report For Non-Profits

03 Aug 2022
How To Develop The Best Impact Report For Non-Profits

A digital version of impact report for Non-Profits is not new, but the pandemic has made it essential.

How do your members, donors, volunteers, and partners know what impact their contribution is making for your organization?

Creating and distributing “impact reports” lets your donors and funders see why their donations matter and how they’re spent. Your volunteers will stay engaged with your mission when they can see the positive outcome of their time and efforts towards achieving your mission goals.

It’s a great opportunity for your Non-Profit to share successes, talk about improvements, and entice supporters to play an even bigger role in your organization.

But most of all, impact reports can help you track the KPIs that matter when it comes to your organization’s success.

What is an impact report?

An impact report for Non-Profits is a document that showcases the results of your Non-Profit’s activities over a time period, often explicitly focusing on one program or event.

The report should seek to achieve a balance between cold, complex data and storytelling that connects with your audience’s emotions.

Essentially, an impact report tells a story with data.

The data on which you focus should connect donations to impact. For example, if you’ve held a hybrid gala event with lots of donations and expenses, you’ll want to measure its impact in relation to its specific goal (e.g., the number musical instruments bought for underprivileged children in the area) and also in relation to past events of a similar kind. Retaining a benchmark and measuring your current success against past successes is another way to show your constituents where their dollars are going — and why their continued support matters.

How to write an impact report

When it comes to writing your impact report, keep in mind that not everyone is reading your report for the same reason. Some will want to verify the numbers; some want to feel good about making positive change. Either way, a well-constructed report will build trust and reinforce your constituent’s commitment to your cause.

Here are 4 “best practices” when it comes to writing an engaging, accessible, data-driven impact report…

1. Keep it simple

Not everyone has — or wants — a window into the inner workings of your Non-Profit. So when writing your report, it’s best to avoid the use of jargon. Instead, use well-established language that you might find in ordinary media publications, which tend to be written at an approximately 9th grade reading level. You can find excellent guidelines and best practices in the , or if you’re a little farther north, have a look at the AP Stylebook, or if you’re a little farther north, have a look at the Canadian Press Stylebook.

2. Be purpose-driven

Try to avoid excessive back patting and grandiose statements of self-importance; instead, start with a clear, well-defined list of goals in which you account for the core problems that your organization is directed towards solving.

Furthermore, not every impact report can — or should — provide a glowing result. Mistakes happen, and so do global pandemics that cause shut downs, delays and cancellations. Your impact report needs to account for these shortcomings honestly and conscientiously, particularly as failures can provide key learnings that will help your organization improve in the future. So, laying out your goal at the outset helps people understand what you were trying to do. This practice makes it easier for you to benchmark and measure your Non-Profit’s impact in a meaningful way.

3. Outline your inputs

What resources went into your program? Where did they come from, and how did you use them? A thorough outline of your Non-Profit’s “inputs” — what it absorbed in terms of charitable donations, recurring gifts, etc. — gives readers an idea of the true cost of change. We recommend the use of visuals to represent the data and to help solicit proper understanding and action on the part of your constituents.

4. Tout your impact

Here’s the part where you get to pat yourself on the back. For those who want to see the numbers, this is where you can showcase your good works using data. How many people did you help? How many pounds of trash did you recover from the canal? How many meals did you provide? According to the experts at The Balance, “Specifying numbers that allow people see the relationship between inputs and outputs will help your donors and stakeholders understand the impact of their contribution.”

GiveLife365’s impact reporting module

GiveLife365’s impact reporting module helps you to streamline the way you capture, monitor and produce real-time reports on your financial, social and environmental impact. Reach out to our team today!