The impact reports a nonprofit prepares have the potential to empower the organization to reach its goals. Impact reports play an important part in setting a group’s strategies for communicating with donors, corporate partners and other internal and external stakeholders. Find out how a Raiser’s Edge import and other database integration tools can help any organization improve the quality of impact reporting.
Why Impact Reporting Is So Important
The approach your organization takes to impact reporting has the potential to determine its success in terms of short-term outputs and long-term outcomes. Real achievements only become apparent when discrete data points derived from a Blackbaud Salesforce integration or either donor relationship management and fundraising platform are synthesized into key performance indicators or other impact-related metrics.
While the staff and internal stakeholders of an organization may have the ability to monitor performance through software analytics and reporting functions, publishing an impact report is the most effective way to communicate the aims, activities, outputs and outcomes of a nonprofit.
The best way to write a report that captures all of these functions is to adhere to a standard format. Most experts recommend starting off with an executive summary and moving through a goal-oriented introduction to discussing specific findings and making recommendations. This document should also be clear, accessible and transparent while demonstrating accountability, verifiability and proportionality.
Structure aside, any impact report should clearly state the purpose of a nonprofit and set forth short- and long-term goals for the organization to pursue. Draw on data from operational and donor management software to provide metrics about organizational activities. These efforts and their results are the best evidence that a nonprofit has made an impact.
How to Effectively Use Impact Reporting
The most effective impact reports strive toward total accountability and transparency. This approach to reporting involves differentiating between outputs and outcomes with regard to the larger aims or goals of the organization. Doing so draws attention to the ways in which donors function as agents of change while also conveying a sense of the incremental, long-term impact of operations.
An organization should also strive to promote engagement when reporting impact. Strategically design the presentation of impact reports to appeal to corporate partners, individual donors or other external stakeholders. This outreach should not be one-way, but designed to promote discourse on actions to take and ways to create the changes necessary to achieve outcomes. It can also be helpful to find ways to use data to tell engaging stories and be as clear as possible with regard to expectations.
An effective impact report can have the positive output of drawing more donations to a nonprofit organization or cause. Organizations that prepare these reports on a regular basis are aware that impact reporting is a cyclical process. Furthermore, not all impact reports are written documents. In many cases, a multimedia report that incorporates videos, images, social media or a website may be more effective. Reporting impact is an opportunity for nonprofit leadership and internal stakeholders to improve operational prospects and empower an organization to achieve its outcomes.