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Learn How To Conduct a Charity Impact Report
Learn how to craft impactful charity reports, attract donors and secure grants with expert insights and volunteer management tools like Rosterfy.
Every volunteer can tell you about the rewarding experience of serving their community. And even though we know a thorough report could substantiate those first impressions, the dreaded effort often lets us shy away.
Once you’re aware of the benefits and know some best practices, you’ll want to embed charity impact reports every step of the way.
Learn How To Conduct a Charity Impact Report
With 71% of volunteers committing to only one organisation per year, it’s only understandable that both volunteers and donors wish to know what they’re in for.
That’s even more important if you’re trying to recruit young people for your organisation, given their increasing preference for virtual or spontaneous volunteerism. And when it comes to funding your nonprofit organisation, that transparency aids you in securing grants and your financial stability.
We’d like to show you how better reporting can convince future volunteers and donors, and how proper volunteer management tools like Rosterfy can support you.
What are the differences between a charity impact report and an annual report?
A charity impact report fulfils a different purpose than an annual report, mostly because the latter is a legal requirement for every registered UK charity, per the Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008. The degree to which each non-profit is obligated to disclose primarily depends on its size.
Smaller charities, i.e. those with a gross income below £500,000, can briefly summarise past activities and fulfilled duties relevant to complying with public benefit guidance. For larger non-profit organisations, more thorough documentation is required, and a platform like Rosterfy can easily support them in gathering the necessary data. In each case, the charity’s short-term goals and past campaigns are an integral part of the annual report.
However, as media consumption habits evolve, many organisations have shifted their strategies in sharing this information, which leads us to the grey area of charity impact reports.
Whereas an annual report would have to contain your registered charity number and financial information, such as donor listings, revenue and expenses, assessing your impact doesn’t always require that level of detail. That’s because they often use a narrow focus to highlight the successes of a single campaign or recent strategy changes.
Since annual reports necessitate more thorough preparation, many charities also involve professional designers or interview staff to inform the content. Impact reports, on the other hand, allow for more spontaneity and flexibility, and that can show in the formatting or design, with numerous smaller nonprofits drafting and sharing content themselves.
Whether you use your latest report to highlight a recent community event or to celebrate shifting demographics among your volunteers, it’s recommended to keep your messaging concise and transparent. It’s always important to embed your mission statement, but don’t run the risk of hiding behind nebulous metaphors without holding yourself accountable. Even if you don’t go into as much detail as in an annual report, you should always include verifiable data and consider how accessible it is to the general public.
Remember that impact reports have to cater to different stakeholders than annual reports, and let that inform your storytelling and tonality to establish rapport with funders. There’s no need to steer clear of finances entirely, but you can use the freedom an impact report provides to reframe minor failures or highlight lesser-known facts about your work.
Crafting a quality impact report to inspire funders and volunteers
Whether you’re drafting a high-level spin-off of your annual report or putting the spotlight on a recent campaign, your impact report should allow readers to peek behind the curtain, which requires thorough analysis on your part.
First, you want to gather data relevant to the message your report is supposed to convey. Since you’re not aiming for an annual report’s depth, you can let your choices of data sources and formatting inform the report’s overall storytelling. If you’re striving for a simplified version of your annual report, you might have your quantitative metrics determine the narrative, whereas conducting interviews and collecting personal stories can support a more emotional perspective.
In most cases, your impact report will contain a combination of the following building blocks:
- Outputs and outcomes: While there’s some value in quantifying your organisation’s efforts, e.g. by sharing the number of visits, donated items or work hours, outsiders will have a hard time gathering the true meaning behind that data. Try to stick with measurable outcomes or at least pair the two together.
- Report’s purpose: Depending on your mission statement, past achievements or a single campaign’s goals, your report can fulfil a multitude of purposes. Therefore, it’s crucial to identify it early on and avoid assuming the same one for each asset. That keeps your community engaged and your report messaging fresh.
- National or local data: Different audiences will expect various depths of information. It’s best to adjust reports based on the insights you can gather with tools like Rosterfy, or even from site visitor behaviour you can observe through Google Analytics. This gives you the flexibility to effortlessly adjust your messaging and embed internal volunteer reports, and local or national data to suit each demographic’s needs.
- Notable projects: For a streamlined version of your annual report, you might just call out the previous year’s biggest wins. Other times, you might want to call attention to a single campaign. Make sure you account for the time needed to produce those reports and to plan long-term, so you always have current results to share.
- Future plans: While a certain level of caution is advisable to stay away from catch-all goals, recent events or developments in your community can serve as a great hook to establish adjusted mission statements or other future plans. Just be aware that readers will usually expect some level of precision, whether that’s through your first commitment to new campaigns or additional research.
- Statement of trustees’ responsibilities: Since this is already part of most annual reports, it’s often reserved for more data-heavy reporting during organisational changes. Sometimes, the impact report may refer back to an annual report to showcase how past strategic decisions helped achieve recent results, thus bridging the gap between the two formats.
To suit the needs of a usually broader audience, your impact report should lean toward visual elements, case studies and storytelling rather than dense reports alone. Use it to highlight the roles of individuals within your nonprofit or include quotes and testimonials from your community to be more authentic and demonstrate your involvement.
As you move along, make sure to incorporate your stakeholders’ feedback and language to keep optimising your reports and adjust them to each audience’s expectations. If you’re already investing significant time, any report can also be a great opportunity to revisit your mission statement and see how your most recent achievements align with your long-term goals and key messages.
What are some of the benefits of impact reporting?
With the right ingredients, an impact report can serve as a recruiting tool, a marketing funnel and an incentive for funders and supporters – all at once. We all like to know that our time and financial support go to a worthy cause, and thorough reporting combined with fine-tuned messaging can help you give everyone that confidence in their decision to volunteer.
That’s why you should conduct reports regularly and for different audiences to attract new funding and supporters across various demographics and interests. Think of it as a way to reframe your work and emphasise the details that would otherwise get lost in an endless scroll through your annual report. For that reason, campaign-oriented or seasonal reports can serve as the foundation for building transparency through consistent marketing, thus boosting your overall credibility as a nonprofit.
Effective impact reporting can also help nonprofits attract funding through grants and deliver more relevant ads to their target audiences. Many charities choose to share their reports as embedded content on their websites or social media profiles, thus getting more value out of the initial research.
And while the task of running continuous campaigns can be daunting, there’s no reason to lose sleep over it. With tools like Rosterfy, you can streamline your data collection and reporting processes, and later use that data to inform your fundraising campaigns.
As an example, Rosterfy not only helped NAPCAN coordinate their 5,000 community specialists; it also allowed them to analyse data about their program’s delivery, the demographics involved and their volunteers’ backgrounds.
At the same time, data protection is crucial, especially when dealing with sensitive information. We’re aware that many nonprofits deal with various types of data formats across demographics, whether that’s a young person seeking support on their mental health journey or casual visitors engaging with their volunteering staff. That’s why we work hard to ensure our platform meets the latest standards of data protection regulations, so your team can get all those benefits and rest assured that the same reports will support them in their compliance efforts.
That same security of sensitive information, especially in grant applications and secure areas of nonprofits’ websites, is also paramount for maintaining trust with donors and stakeholders.
How NAPCAN uses impact reporting to secure grants and additional funding.
NAPCAN are an Australian-based non profit who rely heavily on the donations of supporters and grants from the government. To secure these much needed funds they need to prove the impact they make with their vital services protecting children from abuse.
A family's trajectory towards the social services or protection services crosses a threshold and we operate in a space before it gets to that point – where education and support can stop it from getting to that stage" - Leesa Waters
NAPCAN oversees a vast network of volunteers and facilitators, with a database that includes nearly 5,000 community specialists. These specialists encompass a range of roles, such as sexual assault and domestic violence specialists, nurses, teachers, youth workers, police officers, and juvenile justice officers. Each of these dedicated individuals requires ongoing training, onboarding, and access to opportunities in their specific location.
They use Volunteer Management Software from Rosterfy to record the hours offered by their volunteers and record details of the actions taken. This helps adds clarity to the reports that Leesa Waters, CEO NAPCAN, submits to legislation makers and potential grant makers.
For more on NAPCAN and how they have managed to record more of their impact they make and what they do with this information to secure further funding read their case study.
Measure your impact. Drive your vision forward.
Considering the challenges many nonprofits are already facing, it’s only understandable that the task of additional reporting seems intimidating at first. We hope to take away some of those fears and show you how impact reporting can actually help you build trust and support you in engaging your community.
Don’t hesitate to put your own spin on reporting, though. As we’ve seen, impact reports can take many forms, so leverage this opportunity to experiment with different forms of storytelling and data analysis.
If you’re curious about tracking your progress beyond reports, get in touch with our expert team and book a demo to see what Rosterfy can do for your organisation.
Rosterfy is used by non-profits, charities, sporting federations, and more to better manage their volunteer programs by improving how they can recruit, screen, train and retain volunteers.
Our market leading technology helps you create engaging experience throughout the whole lifecycle of your volunteer journey.