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The seven principles of impact reporting

Reporting on impact is a challenge all grantmakers face, but keeping these seven principles in mind can help you get it right.

1. Tell the story of change

  • Tell the story of the difference your projects made.
  • Tell your readers what changed as a result of the projects.
  • Stay focused on the outcomes.

2. Explain how the change is measured

  • By explaining how you measure change, you enable the reader to make a judgment about the report's validity.

3. Provide objective evidence

  • If your partner's description of what their project achieved is vague - " it increased the confidence of young people," for example - ask them how they know. Draw out the evidence.
  • Try to provide data as well as observational or anecdotal evidence.

4. Be honest

  • The most useful reports explain what could have been done better as well as what went well. This is essential to learning, and to sharing learning with others.

5. Measure what you value

  • Measure what you value in your work, and then report what you measure.
  • Ask your partners to rate your progress in the areas where you think your organisation creates change.

6. Say something new

  • Highlight what you did differently this year, and explain what you will do differently next year. This demonstrates that you are learning from your experience.

7. Think before you print

  • To help prevent wastage of paper and toner, produce an online version of your report as well as a print-friendly version.

These tips were compiled by the former head of community impact at United Way, Jenny Riley. Read more about United Way's approach.

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