This month, we’ve taken a deep dive into your social impact reports. These are critical pieces of the puzzle when demonstrating your organisation’s value and ongoing commitment to helping individuals, communities, and the planet.
So far we’ve covered three things that could be damaging your reports and the different audience types you should be gearing your reports towards. Today, we’re closing the month out with a look at five simple ways to take your reporting from good to great. How can you elevate your reporting and really put your organisation on the map?
Unleash your creativity
When you think of social value reports, no one would blame you for imagining the traditional format. A 30-plus page PDF document that follows the basic structure of a contents page, introduction, methodology, and results.
Let us start by saying that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reports like this. There are countless organisations using this format successfully and achieving incredible things with their social impact. One Manchester’s reports are a great example.
But who says your impact reports have to follow this traditional format?
Sometimes, these longer, more detailed reports aren’t suitable for your audience or social value approach. Which is where it can pay to get innovative and creative with how you’re displaying your data and communicating your impact.
Why not experiment with different formats? You could opt for a modern, interactive, web-based report that reflects your brand’s vibrant personality and brings your data to life in more engaging ways.
There’s also nothing to say you can’t have the best of both worlds, if resources allow. A thorough PDF report for those wanting to take a deeper dive into your impact, as well as a topline overview of your efforts and outcomes on an engaging, web-based landing page.
Embrace staff insight
Staff have their ear to the ground when it comes to your organisation’s social value. They’re the ones directly dealing with your impact on a daily basis. This makes them a valuable resource worth tapping into when building your reports.
Your impact should be an effort undertaken by your whole organisation, and this should be reflected in the reports themselves. After all, the more perspectives and insights you can gather, the more accurate and far-reaching your reports will be.
To better tell the story of your organisation’s efforts, try to gather individual staff stories or experiences. Weave in quotes from those members of the team who have experience with your beneficiaries. Or those who have been a part of your organisation for a long time and can attest to the progress you’ve demonstrated over the years.
So many organisations make the mistake of siloing off their social value, leaving it to specific teams or roles. But in doing so, we’ve found you can end up overlooking so much valuable insight.
Look to the future
Impact reports are all about communicating your priorities, efforts, and outcomes from the past year (or however frequently you generate your reports).
But equally important to your audience will be where you plan to go next. How you plan to carry forward your momentum for years to come. Or how you’ll take any challenges of the past year and use them to do better next time.
This is especially important for funding providers who will want you to demonstrate a resilient, long-term strategy that offers minimal risk and the best use of resources.
Incorporate other assets
While you no doubt have plenty of information you want to get across, putting it as one large wall of text is only going to turn people off. Key insights are sure to be overlooked by people whose eyes are starting to glaze over. Instead, your readers will appreciate clear, concise, engaging reports that give them an accurate picture of your impact and are easy and enjoyable to read.
This is why, when it comes to boosting the readability of your reports, we don’t think you can understate the importance of incorporating other assets. Photos, quotes, and infographics are all fantastic ways to break up the text.
Photos help your reader better visualise your efforts and offer a chance to see the real people behind your impact. They help you show the bigger picture and add a valuable personal touch.
Similarly, direct quotes from your beneficiaries will add more weight to your reports and pack an emotional punch. It’s all well and good you talking about the impact you’ve had on real people’s lives, but what does one of the families you’ve got off the streets or the man you’ve found stable employment have to say?
Finally, infographics are a great way to display large amounts of data. Not only does it make it easier to understand your results, but it also makes your report far more engaging to read.
Be more selective
We know how tempting it can be to stuff your reports with as much data as physically possible. But this can actually work to distract your audience from what matters most.
The best reports clearly outline an organisation’s priorities – the themes you’ve identified as most material to your organisation. They then follow a clear, logical structure of describing your efforts relating to these priorities and showing the results.
Trying to cover too much ground, adds unnecessary white noise to your reports and overshadows the core data and insights that matter most.
Just because you feel you have something to say doesn’t mean you need to share it. If data or insights don’t relate to your few chosen priorities, we highly recommend leaving them out. Stick to what matters most to the conversation at hand.
No matter how experienced your organisation is in terms of social value, there will always be ways to improve how you’re communicating your impact. If our content from this past month tells you anything, it’s that it doesn’t take much to give your impact reports an extra boost and take them to that next level!
Here at Impact, we empower organisations to elevate their social impact. Never before has it been so simple to measure, manage, and report on your activities and initiatives. To find out more about what our platform could do for you, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.