How to create a charity impact report
It is important for your charity to create a visually stunning impact report to clearly show funders and donors how their money is being invested. Impact reports can also be used as a promotional document for new funders. Charity impact reports should follow your corporate branding guidelines. There is a tried-and-tested method to writing a charity impact report. Here are some tips:
1. What is the problem is your charity solving?
In the case of our clients, Coastal West Sussex Mind is overcoming and managing Mental Illness. However it is also raising awareness to overcome the stigma attached to mental illness. Many people are too scared to admit they have a mental health problem so will try to act normal for longer which can cause more stress. Carers Support looks after carers of people who are ill and alleviates associated stress that many unpaid carers face.
2. How does your charity approach the solutions to these problems?
The next step is to identify the services you provide and the approach you take to overcome the problems that your charity addresses. For example, Coastal West Sussex Mind provides training and support services for service users, workplaces and other stakeholders. Experienced mental health professionals train workplaces to train people on signs to look out for. In the case of Carers Support, it provides funding, medical equipment, support and respite for unpaid carers. It is useful to demonstrate how the services fit together.
3. What does that achieve?
This is a basic marketing question; you must establish the challenges that your service users face and demonstrate how your charity overcomes for challenges. In the case of mental health service users, they may face challenges including stress attached to social stigma, loneliness, difficulty getting or keeping a job, difficulty finding decent housing to live in. Therefore mental health charity services will help and train service users find new housing, new jobs and how to tackle mental social stigmas. For unpaid carers, Carers Support will help alleviate stress. People who become carers are often close to the person who is ill and the previous relationship will change. Overcoming this change is just one of the many psychological challenges unpaid carers face. With cuts in Government spending, carers are finding it harder to access funding so Carers Support also offer financial support, which alleviates some stress.
It is important for your charity to go deeper than saying it helps mental health or carers. It must understand the ‘person’ and the challenges that the condition or situation brings.
4. How do people know that your charity is making a difference?
Now is the time to show stakeholders how your charity measures its performance. In our last blog we explained how some charities are perceived to be frittering money on admin. Throughout the impact report, you have reported how you meet the challenges of service users. Now you need to promote the evidence of the impact your charity has made. For example, how many service users have benefitted, feedback from service users, web stats to prove you are raising awareness of the public and are accessible to services users. Remember that some soft issues are harder to measure, however, it is still important to report them. This part of the impact report can benefit from using stunning infographics.
5. How is your charity developing and learning?
It is healthy and good practice to promote that you have areas where your charity wants to improve. Here you will display your charity objectives for the next year or so. You can also promote the challenges you have overcome yourself as a charity. In the case of Coastal West Sussex Mind, they merged in 2014 so the impact report promoted the strength of the merged organisation. If your charity has adopted a coaching culture and your leaders are developing through executive coaching, this is a positive statement to promote.
The Brand Surgery® is a brand development consultancy in West Sussex and we help many organisations to grow their brand through leadership development, strategic marketing and creative communications. Take a look at the impact reports we have created for Coastal West Sussex Mind and Carers Support. If you would like a new-look impact report witten and created for your charity, please call Vicky on 01903 824229.
Testimonial from Anne Hardy, Carers Support: “The Brand Surgery provided excellent, bite-sized advice on how to present our impact report from scratch. They helped us with the contents and logical order. They then designed a stunning report, promoting our statistics in an effective manner, which has been well received by stakeholders. Throughout this project, The Brand Surgery® was proactive in offering advice to make this impact report a success. We would have no hesitation of recommending their services to other charities”