A practical step-by-step guide to impact reporting for charities. The real value in having an impact report, what impact is, measurement, evaluation, what to include, how to make impact reports really effective and how to create and publish a great charity impact report. Not least for your funders. This resource provides a simple example template that anyone can use.
This simple guide covers the real value in charity impact reporting, what impact is, its measurement and evaluation, what to include, how to make your impact reporting really effective and how to create and publish a great charity impact report. Not least for your funders. It also includes Charity Commission PB3 annual report impact reporting requirements.
Impact is the difference you make and, with funding really tight, spending a bit of time evaluating what it is you do in delivering impact can help you find ways to achieve even more. And doing so can also help you secure more funding. I chaired a small grant making board for a decade and what my board wanted to do was to make a real difference to people's lives. All funding bids are about making a difference, but those that demonstrated they were really making a difference were funded and those that didn't weren't.
You're not required to have a charity impact report, but these are a great opportunity to explain your work and engage your funders, stakeholders and others. I don't think that the breadth and depth and value of the social impact charities have is always fully understood and appreciated. I've used measuring the impact of a homelessness charity below as an example to show how you can make sure that yours is. The simple process I've used applies equally well to any other non profit activity and can be used as a template to bring out the full value of your impact in reports and fundraising bids.
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The impact you have is the difference that your charity makes, but be clear on what that means to you. These are the definitions used in the Charity Excellence modelling system, but there are others.
You can use this temaplte and example to create your charity impact report.
If you're thinking of reporting your impact, first you need to be clear on who your audience will be and the pupose(s) of your impact report. This will enable you to shape the content, style and structure to make it as effective as possible. Here are some ideas:
You can create your charity imapct report at any time, but I think the best time to do so is when you've finished your annual report and return. You've done most of the hard work in assessing everything you've achieved over the last year and have the financial and other numbers you'll need. You can then also present it as part of your annual meeting and/or use its content to make a great presentation.
There's no correct format or length, so think about what your audience will want to know and use the language, images, graphs, figures, whatever that will engage them. Here are some ideas on what you might include:
Don't forget to recognise and celebrate the work of your staff/volunteers and suppporters who have made this possible.
You have the data in your annual statutory report/return and a structure for your impact report, but you need to make it credible and bring it to life. Here are some ideas:
Facts And Data.
Bringing You Impact To Life. Commercial companies primarily exist to make a profit and that's easily measurable in the accounts. However, charity impact tends to be much broader and a lot less easily measurable. Your annual report and accounts don't tell the whole story or tell it in an engaging way. Bring your work to life using imagery, case studies, stories and quotes. Use these to reinforce and amplify your key messages and make sure you have appropriate consent to use these.
Keep It Focussed. Don't lose your readers attention, or bury your key messages in the detail. Key financial and other data can be made more engaging by showing this in simple graphs or infographics. If you do need/want to include detail, consider putting this in an annex at the end. And, going back to the purposes of your report, make sure that these messages come through clearly.
Creating Your Impact Report. If you can afford it, you can hand this over to a designer to create your impact report for you. You're clear on what you're seeking to achieve and you've done a lot of the work, so it should cost less. If money's tight, you might engage a freelancer, or even do it yourself. Some charities like to create hard copy reports, but personally I prefer to use digital pdfs. These cost nothing to produce (I'm Scottish) and can quickly and easily be distributed to large numbers of people.
Communicating. There's no point having an impact report if nobody reads it, so the final step is critical. From your purposes, you know who your audience is, so you now just need to get it to them. Here are some ideas:
For a whole range of impact measurement and assessment toolkits, quick guides, impact webinars, networks and volunteers, visit the Resource Hub Impact Page.
Charity Commission PB3 (Public Benefit Reporting) is the legal requirement for registered charities to report in their trustees’ annual report on how they have carried out their charity’s purposes for the public benefit. There are different requirements for larger and smaller charities, but beyond that, there are no rules on how to do it and no requirement to have an separate impact report.
Some funders download annual reports as part of their bid assessment. Impact is what funders want and you're going to have to write it anyway, so it’s worth doing well - it all helps.
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