What is an impact report?

An impact report is an article to communicate the difference your organisation is making on people and the planet. Your impact report should tell readers the actions your company is responsible for and the changes that these actions have created.

Is an impact report the same as an annual report?

Whilst an annual report focuses more on the statistics and performance of the business across the year, the impact report explores outcomes and the meaningful change of these outcomes. Impact reports can also draw on frameworks to analyse progress towards goals, such as the UN sustainable development goals. Each industry contains its own unique frameworks to work towards an industry-wide singular goal.

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3 reasons to conduct impact reporting

Accountability and transparency

Being honest with your stakeholders about the good and the bad through impact reporting promotes transparency and builds trust with investors.

A strategy roadmap

Impact reporting can help identify growth potential and inform wider business decisions by identifying the current position on the road to achieving desired outcomes.

Staff motivation

Providing staff with the knowledge of how their work contributes to the company’s overall success and the achievement of company-wide goals creates motivation and inspiration amongst staff members.

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What’s included in impact reports?

Impact reports can be broken down into 3 segments:

Executive summary

Perhaps the most important part of the report. The executive summary should provide an overview that holds key statistics and outlines achievements that are important to the specific audience you are targeting with the report. When they read this section, they should learn all the necessary details without reading further.

Impact strategy and goals

Your stakeholders must understand the steps you’re taking to achieve your goals. The impact report should clearly outline the strategy that your organisation is taking to make impactful progress.

Within this section, you should outline the outcomes of the important issues that your organisation is trying to move the needle on. You also want to provide an in-depth look into the indicators that you’re using to track your progress and show the development you’re making through the perspective of your indicator performance.

Data visualisation

An important part of an impact report is data visualisation. Having good visual data allows readers to analyse information by turning complex data and statistics into simple-to-understand charts and graphs. Make sure that you’re using charts and graphs only where necessary. Whilst you can have too little amount of visual data, you can also have too much.

How to write a great impact report

Now that you know how your impact report should be broken down, here are 2 tips for making sure your report is effectively communicated with stakeholders.

Focus on the outcomes, not the outputs

We aren’t saying to ignore outputs, rather make sure that your statements are balanced and not solely focused on the production and measurable success (as with an annual report). For example, if you are a medical company with the goal to limit a virus within the UK, whilst your impact report should mention the distribution of the vaccine and the number of people vaccinated, look more at the results of the vaccine distribution. How did the distribution help towards your goals? What impacts have been noticed from this?

Nothing’s perfect, be transparent with your problems

When providing documents to donors and potential investors, all organisations want to communicate quality outcomes and promote all the accomplishments they’ve made. However, nothing is always perfect and pretending it is could have a more damaging effect than being open. In your impact report, make sure to include what’s gone wrong, it provides a view of transparency and openness. Don’t simply highlight errors but also discuss how your plan to improve these areas and the steps that are going to be taken to stop these issues from arising again. donors will be much more accepting of this and have better faith in you because of your transparency and planning.

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