What is the most important element in a successful impact report? One answer is data. Indeed, a distant wave is amassing great size and potential just off of the shore of the world of social impact. With it comes a new standard that requires transparency, accuracy in reporting of activities on the ground, assessment of the spinoff outcomes, and so on - all supported by, you guessed it, data.
Data is increasingly important partially due to our previous mistakes (for example, Toms Shoes). Yet, as inevitable as errors are to be an ever-present reality, improvement is obligatory when our customers are overwhelmingly subjected to volatile and unstable circumstances. In many ways, the demand for data is an assertion that data can close the feedback loop - potentially serving as the voice of customers/beneficiaries to those impacting their lives.
What is important to make a successful impact report?
What makes an impact report successful and effective? We've stated data, but anything else? Yes. Creative storytelling, and for a couple reasons that serve different purposes.
1 Power of Storytelling
The first is, that there is a great potential in the power of storytelling to appeal to the hearts and minds of an audience for not just empathy, but compassion. The purpose that drives the display of storytelling is to appeal for support through demonstrating the importance of the impact efforts.
A way to practice creativity,
- What's the well accepted narrative you want to disrupt?
- What is your vision and goal? What do you want to get out of it?
- What is the result of that vision? What will be the next steps?
2 Using Data
The second is, that within the confines of a data set, it is nearly impossible to display a sense of the situation or actives. However, woven within a thoughtful framing of a story, we might better paint a picture of the reality we serve - or even a glimpse of the idyllic world we are working towards.
So, what does it look like?
Data management that leverages technology can enhance your ability to manage impact data for collection, aggregation, and analysis. Likewise, creative storytelling that leverages art can enhance our ability to effectively communicate the stories behind the data.
There is no universal outline for an impact report. It depends on what type of organization you are, the type of impact you have, the purpose for your impact reporting, etc. However, there are distinctive recurring themes within well done impact reporting. These include:
- An outline of your impact framework which explains how you measure impact
- Theory of Change, program Structure
- Your long term goal
- Thorough data analysis
- Stories from the field (beneficiaries, investor, enterprise, etc.)
- An attractive design - afterall, a good design draws interest.
This article is a brief overview of how to merge creativity in the impact report. To learn more about reporting in detail please follow some resources mentioned below.
- Why are we keep producing Impact Report but not intended impact?
- Social Impact Report, a resource page