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the what, why, and how of impact reporting

The ‘business-as-usual’ mentality is a thing of the past; in 2023, values and ethics are crucial for success. Conscious consumers and morally invested stakeholders need to know more than whether you’re turning a profit or if sales are up: they want to understand your company’s mission, the stories behind your brand, and how by working with you or supporting your endeavors, you’re collectively making a positive impact on the world at large.

Enter the impact report — a holistic summary that speaks to the larger vision of your organization. It strikes the middle path between business and empathy, where storytelling supports data and social returns on investments are valued just as much as numerical ones. It shows the why behind your business and the change and legacy you want to create. It speaks to a strategy that looks at the big picture rather than the small wins.

Whether you’re a non-profit seeking donations, a startup looking to instill confidence in your investors, or a long-tenured company seeking to engage your partners, an impact report can support your efforts.

Here are some quick wins of making an impact report, how to leverage it across your organization, how to start thinking about what to include, and an example of an impact report in action.

Why An Impact Report? Six Quick Wins For Your Business or Organization

It makes your successes digestible and understandable. By having everything in one place on one-to-two pages, you can effectively share your key points and highlights with those who are engaged in your company.

It becomes part of your communication strategy. An impact report is a value-add communication piece if you’re looking to reconnect with investors, donors, stakeholders, or clients.

It helps people connect with you, your organization, and your mission. This is an opportunity to share your key brand messages as well as stories and testimonials from people who worked with you and pair them with your data and financials.

It explains what you do. An impact report helps you to streamline your lines of business and how they intersect to make it clear for your audience.

It can be digital or physical. You can print an impact report to accompany you for in-person events and conferences or send it as an email attachment for online communications.

It can be repurposed into other content. Reimagine the information on your impact report into slides and graphics you can use across your social channels.

What Should I Include in An Impact Report? Three Questions to Spark Your Strategy

So, where to begin? Here are three questions to kickstart your thinking about your impact report strategy and the most valuable pieces of information you want people to know.

What issue(s) are you solving? Start with your why. Why does your company/brand/business/organization exist? What are you trying to make better? Summarize this into your vision (think of this as the reason you get out of bed every day), your mission (the action you take towards that vision), and your values (what guides you in taking that action).

What can you quantify? Numbers help us organize information and make sense of it. Yes, numbers that speak to finances and growth matter, but what else can you quantify within your business? Maybe it’s the number of books you donated to a local education program or the number of food drives you ran last year. Think beyond profits and financials and think about the people you’ve made contact with, too, and what data you can pull.

Who have you helped? When you think about those people you’ve met, think about their stories. Who were they? How did you enter their lives and impact them? Are there any testimonials that can put words to your story? Use images and names of the people where possible and with their written consent.

An Impact Report in Action

Courtnie Coble is the CEO and Founder of The Academy of Goal Achievers (TAOGA) — a Charlotte-based non-profit developing youth leaders to impact communities while preparing high school students and families for post-secondary success.

Courtnie came to us looking for an impact report so she could have something on hand to quickly share with interested donors who could help her keep up with the momentum of her organization. See the final result.

If you want to showcase your success with an impact report, reach out to our team to see how we can work with you to bring your impact report to life.

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