You’ve done the work of courting a donor, securing a donation, and working toward your nonprofit’s mission. Well done! Now comes the next part: creating a nonprofit donor impact report so your donors know what you accomplished with those hard-earned donations.
It can be tricky to decide what all needs to go into an impact report. You don’t want to overwhelm with information, but you don’t want to look like you’re holding back, either.
We’re here to help! In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about nonprofit impact reports, including the following topics:
A nonprofit impact report sometimes referred to as a donor impact report or simply an annual report details what your organization has accomplished in the last calendar or fiscal year.
It usually includes 3 main types of reporting:
Numbers – A great report includes numbers documenting your organization’s impact. For example, if your organization works with many different countries, you might number how many countries you worked with in that year. You might list the number of participants for events or the number of dollars your organization leveraged to better serve your target communities.
Description – Just like you can use numbers to highlight your impact for the year, you can use words to describe everything you accomplished. The written part of your report should be carefully managed to not overwhelm your readers. When writing these descriptive passages, you can appeal simultaneously to your audience’s logic and emotion, both showing clearly how you helped and why it’s so important that you did.
Pictures – Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and they do a lot of work in impact reports. Donors like to be able to see–in clear, easy-to-understand ways–how their donation has helped someone. And if you can show them a picture of someone they helped, that will connect them even more to your organization.
Here’s an example from one of our noteworthy Donorbox users, United Horse Coalition. As you can see, the right amount of pictures, descriptions, and numbers make a nonprofit report attractive as well as informative.
When and Why Do Nonprofits Need an Impact Report?
As a nonprofit or other organization that takes donations, you know how much responsibility that requires. You have to accept donations securely and legally. You have to maintain a relationship of trust with your donors. And creating an impact report is an important part of that process.
Donor impact reports are typically either published quarterly or annually. Publishing quarterly reports is usually necessary for organizations that are very active. For example, they have multiple campaigns a year, several events a quarter, and many donations. Publishing annual reports is more appropriate for smaller or less active organizations.
You need to create impact reports for the following reasons:
It’s the right thing to do – Just as you complete your annual reporting to the IRS or other reporting agency, providing your donors with an impact report is the responsible thing to do. It shows you’re accountable–which helps with the next item on this list.
It encourages your donors to give again – If you’re accountable, donors are more likely to trust you with their donations again. Plus, once you show them how much good their donation did last year, they are more likely to feel like giving to your organization was worthwhile.
It thanks your donors – Part of your report include a sincere thanks to your donors.
It inspires new donors to give – Nonprofits add these reports to their websites which are easily accessible to visitors. If they can see your impact, they are more likely to want to give toward your cause.
It helps track the history – Having impact reports can help you track your progress throughout the years and provide insight into the history of your impact.
How to Create a Nonprofit Donor Impact Report
1. Gather your intel
Your report should include some good numbers representing your accomplishments. This means that first, you need to gather the data behind those numbers. Meet with your team and ask them to pull the following types of information for whichever period of time you’re covering:
1.1 Donations and donors’ data
Amount of total donations
Amount of new donors
Number of campaigns run
Demographics of donors
Location of donors
Donorbox helps you easily collect all this information. On the Donorbox dashboard, you can explore the options for campaigns, donations, and supporters to collect data on donors, members, and event attendees, as well as all the campaigns you’re running and donations you have collected online on Donorbox. You can also add offline donations to Donorbox, hence rest assured that all your data can be stored in one place and managed from there.
Donorbox also lets you add filters to your donors’ list to make sure you can segment data for donor communications, reporting, and other needs. Our “Reports” module helps you create various reports on “donor overview”, “new donors”, and “LYBUNT”.
We also have this podcast episode to further help you understand the importance of donor segmentation, the whys and hows, and other crucial details you must know.
Staff list, program and campaign managers, fundraisers.
Revenue and expense breakouts.
1.3 Mission-specific data
How many lives you served during the time period.
How many countries or areas impacted.
Hours spent working toward mission.
Programs, campaigns, events, goals, etc.
2. Choose your format
Depending on how much information you decide to include, you might choose to create a PDF document or a page built directly into your website. Adding it directly to your website makes it easy for visitors to access and more dynamic as you can link to other material on your website or even include animations.
If you have too much information to include, though, your page could get bogged down and lose some of its functionality. By creating a PDF, you can easily distribute it both on your website and via email. This makes way for more design possibilities and more room to include information.
Whichever you choose, remember to focus on readability, attractiveness, and clarity of information. For example, our nonprofit user Park City Education Foundation has embedded its donor impact report on its website and we love how each piece of information is neatly highlighted.
3. Create the design template
The best impact reports are designed to be pleasing to the eye. You want readers to be able to access the most important information right away–without getting bogged down with too much noise.
Think easy-to-read infographics, along with charts and graphs. You want to illustrate your impact, and design is a great way to do that.
The below design from our nonprofit partner Just Basics Inc is simple and it manages to use different charts to highlight important data, information, and stats in their impact report.
Pro tip: The design of your report should match the branding of your organization. That means colors, textures, and shapes should feel cohesive both throughout the document and with your organization’s other branded material. When it comes to design, consistency is key!
4. Choose pictures
As mentioned above, pictures can do so much work in your impact report. The right picture can illustrate so much more than data ever can.
Add pictures that illustrate why your mission is important. For example, a picture of a school child smiling with the new backpack that your organization provided is a lot more powerful than a picture of the backpack by itself.
Pro tip: Be sure to only use pictures that your organization owns and/or has permission to use. This is not the time to use stock photos. The more your images seem connected with your organization and mission, the better. Community Foundation of Northwest Florida, one of our nonprofit users sets the perfect example for you.
5. Write text
In addition to the numbers, design, and pictures, you’ll need to write descriptive text to go in your report. This is where you can provide qualitative data.
This might include:
A letter from your president or CEO thanking donors and explaining how their donations made your mission impact possible.
A description of an event, program, show, or day of outreach.
Testimonials from individuals your organization helped.
A blurb about the organization’s plans for the next year.
A description of the importance of your mission, alongside your mission statement.
Pro tip: Just as your design needs to match your organization’s branding, your written text should too. Think about the tone that best fits your organization: Conversational? Academic? Professional? Whatever it is, be sure to write with some level of authority so your readers know they can trust what you’re saying.
Decide how you’ll roll your impact report out. Usually, this will include an email to present donors, a post on social media, and sometimes even a direct contact with high-level donors so they know you’re thinking about them.
You should be proud of your impact report, both of what it details and how it looks/reads. Getting the word out there–that it’s ready and live on your website–will add to your appearance as an organization that takes pride in what they do.
3 Excellent Nonprofit Impact Report Examples for More Inspiration
We’ve shared some noteworthy examples with you throughout the sections in this article. Here are 3 more examples that will certainly inspire excellent design, picture, and content ideas for your nonprofit.
1. New Energy Nexus Global Impact Report 2021
In the 2021 global impact report for New Energy Nexus, there are many pictures of entrepreneurs the organization sponsors, along with explanations of the products the organization supports. These pictures are effective because they bring people to the page. They show that there are real people behind the scenes who are benefitting from this organization.
But there are many other reasons why this impact report has made it to our favorites list –
Efficient breakdown of numbers with ample data.
A letter from the Chief Energy Officer with quote highlights and an image.
Vision, mission, strategy, and approach concisely defined.
Solution spotlights based on locations.
The goal for the year 2022.
A list of board members and staff with pictures – “People Who Made it Possible”.
A page dedicated to helping people get in touch, involved, and support the organization.
We love this report for its attention to every important detail.
2. Asian American Community Services 2020 Impact Report
AACS’s 2020 impact report provides an excellent example of how design and numbers can be used to create a huge impact. Their data is organized and streamlined, which makes it effective and easy to understand.
Let’s have a look at what stood out in their impact report –
They clearly restate their mission.
The impact with its data and numbers added right to the second page to grab the eye.
Plans for the next year.
A section dedicated to COVID-19 efforts, that being the highlight of the year.
A clear message of thanks for donors at the end of the programs and plans page.
Prominent mention of ways to support the organization through sponsorships and donations.
The last page of AACS’s impact report features powerful calls to action, including contact information, donation information, and even an outline of donation tiers. Putting a page like this at the end of your report is powerful because readers can see the possible impact of their donations.
We love this report for its simplicity and conciseness.
3. Wellington Zoo Impact Report 2020/2021
This is an annual report from the Wellington Zoo for the years 2020 and 2021 and a thorough depiction of the nonprofit’s work throughout these two years. It should be a great inspiration for those that believe in getting to the nitty-gritty of every program, campaign, project, innovation, and outcome.
Let’s see what aspects are particularly good about this report –
Stunning design with the right choice of colors, fonts, and images on every page.
Letters from the leadership.
A clear demonstration of role and purpose.
A thorough description of animal welfare practices and programs.
Workshops, innovations, and research projects information.
Collaborations and partnerships highlighted.
Special events and community days explained with photographs.
Learning sessions and training for the staff.
Business continuity plans, decision-making strategies, and budgets explained.
Breakdown of revenue and expenses.
Financial statements, grants, and donations highlighted.
We love this report’s detailed approach to transparency.
Over to You
When it’s time to create your impact report, let the facts of the last year or quarter guide you. A good impact report addresses all questions, with one main mission: to make donors feel like their donations were used well. And to encourage those who haven’t donated yet to give to your mission.
To create the best impact report for your nonprofit, you need an online system that helps you collect, store, and manage data. Especially the data for your donors, campaigns, and donations. Donorbox does it all. Along with processing your donations and storing donor data securely, Donorbox also helps you manage and send this data to other great CRMs quite effectively. Learn about our powerful integrations here.
Donorbox, primarily an online fundraising tool, enables nonprofits and organizations to fundraise through simple, affordable, and outcome-driven features like Recurring Donations, customizable Fundraising Pages, Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer, Events, Memberships, and more. Check out all our features here.
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Lindsey spent years wearing many hats in the nonprofit world. Whether she was helping arts nonprofits with their messaging and content, planning a fundraising gala, writing an NEA grant proposal, or running a membership program with over 400 members, she learned how to navigate – and appreciate! – the fast-paced world of fundraising. Now, she loves sharing those hard-earned lessons with the Donorbox community. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.