If you’re trying to convince folks under age 50 to give to your organization, you should have an impact report. This doesn’t just apply to financial donations — if you want Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z supporters to contribute their time, talent, or treasure ($) to your organization, odds are they will look for your impact report first. Two-thirds of millennials do research into organizations before giving, and 22% look for impact reports. That doubles for Gen Z, where 57% of people surveyed said that they look on social media for impact reports.
It’s not just about first-time donors — impact reports are important for keeping your existing volunteers and donors, too. Millennials reported that the number one reason they stopped giving to an organization they had given to long term was because they felt like their gift didn’t matter.
What should be included in your impact report?
Think of your impact report as the one-page, highlight-reel version of your annual report. Pick out the best and most interesting facts and figures from your previous year. Annual reports may be great for organizational partners, potential grantors, or even major donors, but your average donor or volunteer is not going to read a 30-page report.
First things first
In order to put forth proof that your organization has been effective and efficient with resources, you need to measure your impact and collect data. Decide which important metrics you want to track early on, make sure you have a plan in place for storing this data, and ensure that all relevant stakeholders are on the same page. Trying to collect data after the fact is much harder and often results in incomplete data sets.
You want to tell the best version of your story, but make sure it’s still honest. Don’t overclaim — it’s okay if you didn’t solve homelessness in a year — just show your audience how many people you did feed, shelter, or provide services to.
You can be vulnerable. It’s okay if you had setbacks and failures, but your impact report should show that you are learning and growing. Especially as we come out of the pandemic, it’s okay to talk about challenges, particularly if you had to pivot or change methods. If you are able to communicate how you’ve become more effective as a result of setbacks, that’s incredibly valuable to include.
Go beyond the numbers
A strong impact report is more than just numbers and finances. It’s about telling your story and connecting new volunteers and donors to your mission. Good storytelling will motivate supporters to action and that’s the goal. You need to trigger an emotional response, and numbers alone will not do that.
As philanthropy grows to include more folks under 60, having strong impact reports is increasingly important. Gen X, millennials and Gen Z are looking to social media for impact reports before donating to an organization, so don’t lose out on important supporters by not creating this crucial tool and sharing it widely.