Impact at the heart of annual reporting
The importance of impact in your annual reporting
- Demonstrates value
- Improves internal processes
- Identifies what to improve
- Encourages investment
- Reaches new audiences
Is it just something you do because you have to or does it give you a chance to reflect on the difference you have made in the last year?
What drives your monitoring and evaluation - is it funding requirements or is it embedded strategically across your organisation?
Having impact at the heart of your public benefit reporting means that you are getting the most out of it. It demonstrates your value not only to CCNI and your funders but to your staff, volunteers, trustees, service users and other stakeholders like the public, councils, gov depts and those who potentially might need your organisation. By continually reflecting on what you do and why you do it, as well as how you do it makes your internal processes and procedures more efficient and effective. It provides you with the evidence and opportunity to identify what and how to improve. Funders and the public will better understand what you do and see the value in it – so this will encourage investment and help you to development partnerships. It is also a great way of reaching new audiences and people who need your services but aren’t currently involved.
Getting the most out of your annual reporting
In order to get the most out of your reporting you need to see it as something you do all year round, get everyone involved and get the word out about what you do.
All year round - Impact isn’t just something you think about when your annual return is due to CCNI or when you have a funding return to send to a funder. Impact should be part and parcel of everything you do all year round. It is so much easier to complete the returns when you have been systematically and intentionally gathering evidence throughout the year. Keeping an eye on the impact also means that you are continually reviewing if something is working or not and making changes if you need to. Build into what you do – delivering services, team meetings, quarterly reporting, organising events.
Get everyone involved - Although the leadership of your organisations, your board of trustees and senior management are responsible for delivering impact, it is everyone’s responsibility to create impact through their work and play their part in showing how their work makes a difference and sharing what they learn with others. This can also be very motivational and build the sense of teamwork. It’s important that staff and volunteers understand their role and that the organisation invests in improving their skills and allocating support and resources. Review how measure our impact regularly as well as encourage staff to share stories of impact.
Get the word out - How often do we monitor and evaluate what we do but either forget or don’t make the time to share our learning and communicate our impact? Do we ever submit reports to our board, funders or regulators and not consider how we can get the word out there? We need to make the most of the evidence we have and think about how we communicate that in different ways to a variety of audiences – using both the numbers and the stories. Infographics and images are good to use as they are easy to understand and quick to read. Think about who can help you get the word out through social media such as partners, umbrella organisations, councils and volunteers.
How do we do it?
- Develop evaluation framework in tandem with your strategy
- Start with the impact not the activity
- Develop clear indicators
- Decide on measurement tools
- Only collect the information that you need
- Review and adapt
- Have structure and discipline
- Be proportionate
- Involve range of people at different levels
- Encourage open and reflective culture
- Include in induction, training, supervision etc
- Have impact champions and groups