26 Sep, 2022

Before getting into the details of what an impact report is and what should be included in one, let's understand what is impact reporting. The simplest way to explain is a means of stating the difference you made to people you are trying to help, or in the issue you are trying to improve. Given its nature, it's only important that every organization puts out an impact report that details the necessary information.

An impact report is a document or presentation that allows organizations a measurable way to communicate the benefits of their efforts to their stakeholders, investors, consumers, or people in the community. Through this kind of report, you can show all the activities and changes an organization has made to make a successful and positive impact, whether through sustainability, social justice, or community outreach programs.

The most significant difference between an impact report and other common annual reports is that an impact report doesn’t simply measure input and output. Instead, this kind of report actually shows how the outcomes have produced meaningful change outside of the organization. What’s important to remember is that your organization’s impact report is both transparent and accountable. After all, you want to build trust with all the involved parties and reassure them that you have their best interests in mind.

It’s important for senior management in any organization to stay up-to-date on what works and what doesn’t for their business. By doing this, they can then make obligatory changes, change strategies and track efforts. The information in an impact report is also highly useful for stakeholders, funders, commissioners, and investors.

Organizations often require major funding, need to receive donations and grants as well as require to hire experienced people, in order to operate successfully and bring about positive change. Therefore, releasing an impact report allows them to show evidence that their endeavors have brought about positive results and show stakeholders why they should continue to support these organizations.

That being said, here’s what must be included in your impact report.

Before we get into what’s to be included in your impact report, we need to ensure that it has a good impact measurement framework. This framework has to be agreed up properly and designed carefully before you get to executing your project. You have to plan what data you want to collect, beforehand, not leaving anything for after or to chance. Collecting this data will also assist you in deciding the metrics and indicators that you will be putting into your report later on. All relevant data must be collected at every stage of the process and then included, in order to get a thorough report.

Your stakeholders aren’t just the people that have invested in your organization. They extend to every individual who is a part of your project and/ or is getting affected by it. They are your team members who will be a part of executing the project, volunteers, and third parties that you may collaborate with, such as government agencies, etc. Given that whatever the outcome maybe, it will affect and benefit them, therefore you have to keep them apprised of everything that’s happening, from the beginning. Talk to them and try to understand what’s important to them, and learn what would they like to see in this type of corporate report. Ensure that you are offering them reassurance and building trust with them by doing all this.

Your impact report must include the following:

Why?

What is your Need Analysis? Why do you need to set up this project or intervention? What is the issue that needs solving? This will give you a solid foundation from the start.

Who?

Whom are the stakeholders involved? Whom are you trying to help benefit from this intervention? Ensure that you have all your beneficiaries’ details noted down – Who they are, where they live, what their lives are usually like, what problems they have, etc. This information is crucial. After all, it’s meant to give those reading your corporate report a proper picture of your beneficiaries and allow the readers to feel a connection to them.

When?

When did this project run? For how long? You may also choose to include the total number of man-hours spent during the overall project.

What did you actually achieve through this project? This should really be the most thought-out and transparent section of your report. It’s crucial to also include the data you’ve collected as part of your risk analysis. Your stakeholders will need this information in order to help them with their decision-making.

Finally, what have you learned from this project? What could you have done differently, or done to improve this project? It’s important for you and your team to sit down and reflect on the intervention. You have to be extremely honest about it. Get feedback from everyone that was involved, note it all down and ensure that it forms a part of your impact report.

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