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Nonprofit Strategies

How to write a compelling nonprofit impact report

Your supporters know that your nonprofit is making a big difference in your community. Now, demonstrate just how much you’ve accomplished with a compelling impact report. Here’s how to do it.

Nicola Scoon
September 22, 2023
Nerd Mr Butter

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Wouldn’t it be great if there was a handy way to show stakeholders in your community exactly what you’ve been working on and how successful you’ve been? That’s exactly what a nonprofit impact report does.

In this guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know about nonprofit impact reports. Discover why they’re valuable and when to send them out. Plus, tips on how to plan, write, and share the most effective impact report for your organization.

What is an impact report for nonprofits?

Nonprofit impact reports demonstrate the positive results that your most recent programs or campaigns have had on your community.

This donor report gives readers an overview of your goals, how your project has been a success, and any lessons you’ve learned for the future. It’s an opportunity to give others an insight into the work you do, build trust, and encourage future donations. 

Why your nonprofit impact report is important

A nonprofit impact report showcases your organization’s great work and everything that you’ve achieved on a specific program or over a defined period of time. It’s your opportunity to showcase the impact you’ve made on your community and motivate your supporters to stay engaged with your mission.

A strong nonprofit impact report:

  • Reiterates your mission and goals ⭐
  • Informs your supporters and stakeholders about your work 💪
  • Highlights your success with data, stories, and visuals ✨
  • Gives you a chance to share any lessons learned for future programs 💡
  • Showcases your commitment to your cause or goal 🎯
  • Promotes donor retention and loyalty 💛
  • Gives your team a way to track your progress over time 🗓️
  • Encourages donors to give to a specific program 🎁

These are just some of the many great reasons to write and share nonprofit impact reports. Now, let's talk about when you should send them.

When to send your nonprofit impact report

Prepare a donor impact report whenever you end a program or reach a specific milestone. Keep your supporters updated on long-term projects with monthly or quarterly impact reports, and share a report as you close a short-term initiative or program.

A nonprofit impact report is similar to a nonprofit annual report, but they’re slightly different. While annual reports cover everything you’ve achieved over the past year, an impact report details the success of a specific initiative or project. This means that you’re not limited to sending one to donors each fiscal year.

How to prepare a powerful nonprofit impact report

Nonprofit impact reports are an ideal way to keep your supporters updated on the difference you make, but how do you plan, write, and share them? Use these steps to take you from start to finish.

1. Define your goal 🎯

Your nonprofit impact report should tell the story of how you’ve achieved (or tried to achieve) your program goal, so it’s essential to highlight this in your report.

Clearly outline your program or initiative goal, so your supporters have the context they need to understand your impact. Reflect on your progress toward your goal so you can pull the most relevant stories from your team when it’s time to start gathering data.

2. Source your data and stories 💬

Nonprofit impact reports contain lots of valuable data, stories, and visual content from your program or initiative. Take some time early on in the process to gather this data, so you know what you’re working with and where you might need to source additional resources.

Talk to your team members, ask them for real-life impact stories, and reflect on any data, surveys, and reports that you hold for your project. If you don’t have what you need, now is the time to poll your beneficiaries, team members, board members, and partners to get some extra insights for your report. 

Build a list of all your relevant contacts in your nonprofit CRM and send them a personalized email asking for their contributions.

3. Organize your information 💼

When you’re working with different types of data and content, it can quickly get overwhelming. There are financial statements, beneficiary testimonials, spreadsheets, and more to organize. Decide on a system for organizing your content, and use one central place to store it so nothing gets lost.

Get together with your team and agree on where you’ll store all the data and resources for your nonprofit impact report. If you’re working with lots of files, set a naming convention and organize them into sub-folders so everyone can find what they need quickly. Not only does this make finding files easier, but it’s an organizational habit that will be useful throughout the report-writing process.

4. Decide on a type of report 📽️

Nonprofit impact reports are often written documents, but they don’t have to be. Consider the best format for your nonprofit impact report now so that you can tailor your messaging, visuals, and promotion activities to match.

A traditional written report is great for sharing with board members, stakeholders, and the press. A visual slideshow or presentation gives you a more interactive way to talk about your success during an event or webinar. A short video or series of images is easy to share on social media, giving you extra reach.

Your report doesn’t have to only be in one format, either. Once you’ve gathered your data and written an in-depth report, you can repurpose this in different ways. Your plan might involve a written report for the media, a slideshow for your next supporter event, an interactive report for your website, and a series of short videos for your social media pages.

5. Write it up 📝

Once you’ve decided on the format and have all the data you need, it’s time to start writing your nonprofit impact report. Take all the data and stories you’ve gathered and turn them into a compelling case study of the great work you’ve done so far.

Most impact reports include your mission statement, program goals, table of contents, list of major donors or funders, financial information, project outputs, and data that demonstrate your outcomes. They weave in stories from those you’ve helped, team members who worked on your program, and board members who were impressed by your results.

6. Prepare the visuals 📊

Your results might be impressive, but it’s hard for most people to engage with a list of statements or statistics. Think about the different ways you can use visual elements to support your story and help your message reach more people.

Photographs, illustrations, videos, and animation can help your supporters connect with your mission and your progress. The best nonprofit impact report examples include lots of data visualization—use graphs, pie charts, and infographics to share key data points in a way that feels accessible and easy to understand. And with user-friendly tools like Canva for nonprofits, you can create engaging, visually appealing graphics with easy templates.

7. Create a marketing or awareness plan 📣

While you can simply share your report when you’re done, it pays to have a marketing or awareness plan in place. This will allow you to be strategic about where, when, and how you share your report with your audience to share your progress and reach potential donors.

Decide which channels you’ll use to promote your new impact report. Add email marketing, SMS messaging, social media, public relations, and other mediums to your plan based on your experience of what works for your audience.

Think about who you’ll send your report to and which medium they’re most likely to engage with. Dive into your Givebutter contact management database and use our filtering and segmentation tools to build specific donor segments based on their past interactions with you. Create tailored marketing plans based on your segments to drive higher levels of engagement.

8. Publish and share ✔️

You’ve finalized your report and created an effective, targeted marketing and awareness campaign. All that’s left now is to put your plans in motion—it’s time to publish your report and share it with your community.

Take advantage of Givebutter’s marketing and engagement features to reach out to your supporters and tell them all about your newly published report. Send personalized emails, texts, videos, and emails and tailor these based on their individual habits, interactions, and preferences.

9. Review the impact of your report 📈

There’s always something to learn from every campaign, so set aside time to review the impact of your latest report. Get together with your team to review the data and understand how your community interacted with your report so you can make future reports even more engaging.

Review your message analytics to determine how your audience engaged with your SMS and email campaigns. Count interactions on videos and social media posts—including shares with other people or pages. If your impact report featured a personalized or trackable link, check how many times this page was viewed and how visitors landed on that page. 

These are all valuable insights that can help you shape your impact reports for the better.

Get started with this nonprofit impact report template

Whether you’re not already sending nonprofit impact reports, or your existing reports aren’t getting results, it’s time to shift the focus and start fresh with a new approach. 

Yearly is an online platform that helps nonprofits create annual reports and has solid tips for how to write a nonprofit impact report. With Yearly, you can view nonprofit impact report examples, add images, videos, and graphs, and even embed Givebutter donate buttons right into your report.

Maximize the reach of your nonprofit impact report with Givebutter

Impact reports are valuable, and they also take a lot of time, energy, and dedication to create. Maximize your impact and get your report seen by your supporters in a more engaging way with Givebutter’s marketing features.

Segment your donor database and build lists based on past interactions, contact preferences, and contact type. Tailor your messaging and use personalization to send more thoughtful, engaging messages to your audiences through email, SMS, video, and more. 

Free nonprofit marketing and donor engagement tools

Make your impact report go further—sign up and give Givebutter a try today

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