Written by Susan Miura
Content Writer, Social Impact Solutions
Edited by Lauren Vanderpool
Co-founder, Social Impact Solutions
Grow Your Nonprofit with Powerful Impact Reports
Want more donors, larger donations, and consistent giving? Getting there is easier than you think; simply give donors what they want: impact metrics. Measuring and reporting social impact is critical to gaining and retaining donors. Every person who contributes to an organization yearns to make a difference. They want to imagine people in need receiving food, education, or healthcare. They envision their gift helping the environment or leading to a cure for cancer. The good news is that every donor’s contributions do play an important role in achieving your mission’s success, so let them know this through the use of an impact report.
Communicate with Donors by Using Impact Data and Reporting
An impact report uses data, stories, photos, and graphs to illustrate your nonprofit’s progress in achieving its goals. This report tells your donors what your organization did to reach those goals and how their donations made it possible. Statistics can be dull, so present the data in ways that are visually stimulating and easy to understand.
The same holds true for graphs. When it comes to stories, make them personal so donors feel connected to the individual or community experiencing a better quality of life. If your organization made it possible for Sarah to receive a new kidney or David to attend school, share these constituents’ experiences in your impact report. This magical combination of numbers, images, and “heartstrings” shows donors their support results in life-changing outcomes. The result?
• Satisfies the need for information.
• Builds trust in your organization.
• Creates motivation to give more consistently or larger amounts.
• Illustrates how your nonprofit’s approach differs from others.
• Inspires donors to spread the word about your good work.
Sometimes referred to as program reports or outcome evaluations, impact reports provide donors with a clear vision of your target population and the specific problem their gifts are helping to resolve.
Don’t Forget Metrics!
Impact reports should also include metrics, a quantifiable measurement for tracking the successes and failures of an organization’s processes. Metrics show progress toward short, mid and long-term objectives and provide actionable insights about performance and goals. Additionally, metrics present donors, volunteers, and staff with a clear vision of:
• The outcome of steps or strategies used to make a positive impact on a specific problem.
• How your work is changing lives, communities, etc. in a quantifiable manner.
• What’s important to your organization and its stakeholders.
• And most importantly … how your donors make these changes possible.
Why is the last bullet so important? Because your social impact report and metrics tell a story, and every great story has a hero. Donors need to know they are the heroes of your organization’s story. Without their loyal and generous support, nonprofits around the globe would not be able to implement their valuable programs and initiatives.
How well is your nonprofit communicating with donors, staff, and volunteers? Take this two-minute Social Impact Solutions Fundraising Quiz and find out. You’ll get a personalized assessment in minutes. This free online quiz will evaluate your organizational clarity, marketing, technology, fundraising, and impact.
Mitigate Donor Confusion with a Clear and Compelling Message
When it comes to creating an impact report, simplicity is key. It should be crystal clear, with no room for interpretation. Break it into sections, each containing a clear purpose and relevant data. Don’t convolute with unnecessary information designed to impress. Most importantly, make it easy for people to donate while reading the report. Remember, the goal is to inspire and motivate, so have a donation link available throughout the report.
Done right, your clear and concise message will illuminate your nonprofit’s value to prospective and existing donors. Donors will know their gifts make an impact, staff and volunteers will see how their work is changing lives, and everyone will be reminded of the positive impact they are having on the communities you serve.
Incorporate Impact Data into Giving Tuesday and End-of-Year Fundraising Campaigns
An impact report is a great tool for engaging donors but has the added benefit of engaging volunteers and employees. Seeing concrete evidence of an organization changing lives is great motivation for volunteers and staff. And remember, they can be donors, as well. Once you have this tool in place, make the most of it. Use it, or parts of it, throughout the year when showcasing specific events, like Giving Tuesday or end-of-year fundraising campaigns. Referencing the statistics and stories in your impact report is an efficient way to facilitate donations.
According to an article in Forbes, social impact is the key to an effective, smooth-running nonprofit.
“As we emerge into a post-pandemic world, the top metric to measure is impact. Nonprofits need to measure their investments in research and data that determine whether programs are actually moving the needle and addressing problems, thus justifying their existence. A nonprofit's mission and programs must be quantifiable, and goals must be concrete enough to honestly measure performance every month.” - Thomas Bognanno, CHC: Creating Healthier Communities.
Corralling Social Impact Data
Now that you understand the importance and contents of an impact report, you may be wondering how to acquire the data. And once it’s acquired, how is it analyzed and interpreted to clearly show:
• How funds were allocated?
• Percentage of goals attained?
• Impact on individuals and communities?
• What worked and what didn’t?
The short answer is: implement data capture and impact management software. The software provided by SureImpact will help your organization track and report outcomes, measure participant needs, and demonstrate programmatic impact to funders. SureImpact’s platform measures outcomes on an individual, program, and organizational level. Armed with this information, a nonprofit can more effectively connect with donors, staff, and volunteers, increase trust, attract new sources of funding, and foster organizational growth.
In today’s dynamic, info-heavy world, donors want to know their money is making an impact. Show them you are carefully stewarding their gifts and using them to change lives. Provide a clear and compelling report of what has taken place and your vision for the future. When they see your organization can demonstrate potential impact via measurable goals and objectives, they’ll feel engaged and inspired to give.
If you would like to learn more about how to better position your nonprofit to your donor base and streamline fundraising, take Social Impact Solution’s free fundraising quiz. In the quiz, you will learn:
• What your organization does well and where improvement is needed.
• How your organization’s performance compares to industry standards.
• How to implement strategies from Social Impact Solutions that will help grow your organization.