This month, we want to turn our attention over to all things social value reports.
While social value is largely about changing lives, bolstering communities, and reducing negative environmental impacts, your social value reports also have a critical role to play. They’re an essential way to follow through on the difference you’ve made.
Whether it’s to secure more funding, improve your organisation’s reputation, or to continually evolve your impact to add even more value to your beneficiaries, social value reports hold the key towards really maximising your impact and evidencing your ongoing commitment to doing better.
But not all reports are created equal. Today, we’re covering three of the more common problems we see in social value reports.
#1 – Including too much data
We know you might doubt this is possible, but trust us when we say you can sometimes have too much of a good thing.
Capturing large amounts of data to cover a wide range of themes and projects is great. As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to have an excess of data than too little. It provides a valuable bank of information and insight from which to base decisions and future strategies.
But the reality is that not all of this will have a place in your reporting.
Ideally, your social value reports should centre around your organisation’s key priorities and goals. The themes and outcomes that hold the greatest value and potential within your organisation, local area, and wider industry.
Incorporating masses of data outside of these priorities only threatens to overwhelm your readers, overcomplicate your reports, and distract from the data that actually matters.
Overfilling your reports could be viewed as your organisation overcompensating or taking a ‘throw everything and see what sticks’ approach to social value. Neither are ideal. Instead, you want to portray yourself as being mature and self-assured. This means not only knowing what you need to say, but what you need to hold back.
You want to show your audience that you are crystal clear on what matters most, how your organisation is positioned to have the greatest impact, and where your time and resources are best spent.
#2 – An absence of personality
While there are certain recommendations we’d give to an organisation looking to generate more engaging social value reports, there are no strict rules when it comes to what your social value reports should actually look like.
The more you can let your organisation’s personality and tone of voice shine through, the better.
If you’re not an overly formal, structured organisation, a rigid, long-form report might seem out of character. So might a jargon-filled report that reads more like a university dissertation than an accessible public-facing report.
As a modern-day brand, a 30-page PDF isn’t your only choice for social value reporting. You could create an interactive, web-based report instead. This is a great example of one!
Or, if you’re a more traditional organisation, a lengthy PDF might work great for you. Your stakeholders may be after as much information and insight as possible, lending itself to the longer format. But who’s to say littering some pictures and quotes throughout couldn’t also help to bring more of that personal, relatable touch?
If your reports aren’t reflective of your wider brand and personality, chances are your readers won’t resonate with them. You want any readers who are already familiar with your business to recognise you within your reports. And any new visitors should come away feeling more clued up on who you are and what you stand for.
Whether it’s your colour scheme, layout, content, language, or structure, you always want your reports to reflect your personality and values.
#3 – A lack of human stories
While external stakeholders – such as funding providers – will likely benefit most from hard-hitting statistics and a basic, topline overview of your efforts, the general public, your customers, and your beneficiaries will all be more interested in your human-level impact. The real-life stories that truly demonstrate your value and commitment to improving lives.
You want your reports to elicit an emotional response from your audience. And human stories prove critical to this goal.
You could say your efforts have helped 21 families off the street and into a home of their own over the past year. But wouldn’t this be richer if you took a deep dive into one family in particular and outlined how their individual lives have changed for the better as a result?
Have the parents been able to secure more stable incomes? Are the children now receiving greater educational opportunities and better access to healthcare and support? Can you include a direct quote from them on how they’ve been impacted by your support?
Tangible human stories are how you can move from outputs to outcomes. Moving past what you’ve achieved as an organisation, making sure you’re sharing what your achievements mean to real people and their very real lives.
Readers will find your reports far more engaging and impactful if there are relatable, uplifting success stories to browse through. Stories that could be about their neighbour, sister, or friend.
Creating impactful, engaging social value reports is a critical aspect of elevating your social value approach and strategy. It’s how you evidence the impacts of activities and initiatives to external stakeholders and inform internal decision-making to continue generating more social value long into the future. But there will always be ways to take your reports to the next level.
Are you looking for a more seamless, user-friendly way to capture impact data, evaluate your efforts and outcomes, and generate engaging reports? Here at Impact, we’d love to help. To find out more about what a partnership with us could look like, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.