Most nonprofits are passionate about the programmes they manage and focus predominantly on how they can serve their beneficiaries best. It is however critical to have proper, professional communication in place to establish strong relationships with stakeholders and build your profile to maintain and attract social investments.
If your funders don’t understand what you are doing or if they are unsure if their investments are making a real impact, it may be difficult for them to commit to invest in your organisation – even if you are doing fantastic work.
Reports shouldn’t be seen as an administrative chore, but as an opportunity to proudly showcase the work that you are doing.
Here are 5 tips to help you write impressive funding reports.
The physical appearance of your document directly influences the way the reader receives your report.
Always spellcheck and ask someone to proofread your document. You are probably so used to your own words, that you may overlook mistakes. A tip for proofreading your document is to print it out and read through the hard copy, this will help you spot some mistakes you might not see on your computer. Proofread, edit, repeat.
Be consistent in your formatting by using the same font, size, spacing, and colours throughout your document. When possible use the same reporting template, and number your pages for ease of reference.
Avoid using jargon and explain terms or abbreviations that the general public might not understand.
Before you send your document remember to save it as a pdf, this will ensure no formatting issues creep in on the way to your reader.
Short, Simple and Professional
A report is meant to guide the reader through the information in a structured way, but also to enable them to find the information that they want quickly and easily.
Lengthy reports become tedious to read and people lose interest quickly. Keep to the point, but still write full sentences and not just bullet points unless you are communicating specific numbers or figures.
It is great to include success stories, but the report should focus primarily on the results, so the reader don’t have to search for evidence within the text.
If it’s not relevant to the specific report that you are busy with, rather leave it out.
The Golden Thread
It is important to align your report to your original funding proposal. The funders mainly want to see if you have done what you promised.
If you have a Theory of Change, you can also use this as a base for reporting on achieved outputs. This helps the reader to track your progress in terms of your original objectives and goals.
Adding that Human Touch
Sharing inspirational success stories and testimonies are great ways to communicate the quantitative, human element of your work.
Visuals, graphics and pictures are more striking ways to engage your reader. If you are working with children consider adding a hand-drawn picture by one of your beneficiaries or a hand-written letter or testimony. This is a great way to end your report and shouldn’t be the main focus of your report.
Many funders have a set of requirements or a fixed template that you can follow. If you want to create your own design there are a couple of options available. If you have a graphic designer, they can do the lay-out professionally in a programme like InDesign or Photoshop.
Canva is a free online platform with beautiful design templates that can be customised to incorporate your organisations brand. It is very user-friendly and will help to make your report look neat and impressive.
The most commonly used document format remains Microsoft Word, offering a series of templates to choose from.
Article compiled by Anniza Burnett, Social Impact Manager at Valcare.
If you have any questions on writing your report efficiently, please contact Valcare’s Social Impact Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.