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Inspiration event
1 hour

The art of impact reporting

Oct 17, 2023 10:00 AM
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How to tell your story with impactful data?

Do you already report on the true impact of social action in your community? Discover how to craft compelling narratives by translating data into stories that resonate with your stakeholders. During this session, we share tips, tricks, and great examples specific to CVSs, TSIs, and volunteer centers.

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Levi Witbaard
CEO at Deedmob

Following the principle "alone you go faster, together you go further”, he combines the best of Marketing, Sales, Product and Customer Success to grow the impact for and with our partners. If he’s not trying to crack the case of how to create scalable impact worldwide, he enjoys life in the form of his family, business books, helping out a the food bank and 10k+ steps a day.

Gerbrand Holland
Growth Manager at Deedmob

Gerbrand offers a unique blend of perspectives that empowers our partners to reach their social impact goals. He focuses on expanding the impact ecosystem through extensive research on volunteering. Beyond his job commitments, he is active as Youth Ambassador for the UN SDGs, loves playing chess, running and cycling, and dreams of finishing the Marmotte.

Recap and Insights

In our latest Inspiration Session “The art of impact reporting”, Deedmob’s team aimed to help you start or take the next step with impact reporting for your organisation. This recap features the highlights of the session.

The goal of impact reporting is to calculate the value of volunteer efforts in the community and recognize the amount of community support that organisations and people receive. This helps you communicate the impact of volunteers and retain their effort by validating and celebrating it. Besides, it ensures accountability, creates a business case and builds credibility for your organisation.

We hear many different challenges that arise. There can be a lack of capacity, skills, or motivation to report, the impact of volunteering might be hard to quantify, or reporting is simply not a priority. While all these challenges are valid, impact reporting remains necessary and crucial for your organisation. However, to make it as easy as possible, we believe that there is a need for a comprehensive, unified framework to measure impact that would be accepted within and across organisations, while also communicating meaningful contributions to communities, voluntary organisations, volunteers and other stakeholders.

This framework consists of a good balance between qualitative and quantitative data. Currently, we see an overemphasis on the qualitative side because this is easier to comprehend and connect to. But don't forget: stories create connections, numbers convince people. They give a sense of precision to even the most imprecise stories. This is also important for the funder, who wants to see that your project has demonstrable value for local communities and people.

So start by establishing the value before you'll assess the quantitative side. Numbers are just empty entities without knowing what value they represent. Ask yourself who is in the audience, what they care about and how you make a difference. After that, assess the data you collect and decide which metrics will quantify the change. Then combine the qualitative and quantitative data. For example: start with a volunteer story about person X. Follow this up by stating that there are 3400 other volunteers like X, connected to hundreds of organisations in the past year!

There are also other questions you can ask to communicate the quality of your work. Everything starts with asking the right questions. This is what you need to form a compelling narrative

  • What makes a volunteer match successful or unsuccessful?
  • Do we support the people we said we would?
  • How do we do? Are volunteers and third sector organisations happy?
  • Is there significant demand for the service we provide? 
  • Is the demand sustained—do people come back for more? 
  • Is the problem we are solving the most pressing in our context?

We recognise that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to impact reporting. However, there is a great impact framework that can help you communicate value: Objectives & Key Results (OKRs)!

OKR is strategic framework that uses specific metrics to track the achievement of a goal.

  • Objective is simply what is to be achieved, no more and no less. By definition, Objectives are significant, concrete, action oriented, and (ideally) inspirational. Those are usually well defined in within your strategy already.
  • Key results focus on outcomes, which represent real, near-term impact in the form of a desired change in status, condition, or behavior that results from a particular set of programs or activities
  • Activities are meant to show what you did and how that made a meaningful contribution to the outcomes

In the presentation, you'll find some great examples of well-structured impact reports using this formula. For example: Wokingham Volunteer Centre, Action Together, VC Sutton, or Spark Somerset.

But there's also another side to impact reporting. Because what if we would look at the monetary or economic value of volunteering? Can we put a price-tag on something that’s priceless?

We believe that you can at least estimate a monetary value (direct costs saved) of volunteering in your region, using our impact calculator. It provides an estimate of the monetary value of volunteering, based on either the number of matches or hours of volunteering, optionally categorised in different sectors. If you also register the investments made (salaries, project costs, overheads and more), you can provide an estimate on the net monetary value of volunteering in your region and the Social Return on Investment (how much value £1 invested represents). But don't forget that the economic value (direct and indirect costs saved) is way higher than this value.

A fun fact: we estimated that the value of volunteering in the UK is £324 billion (!!!), which is 14,5% of the UK's GDP. With £190 billion spent (NHS), this totals a SROI of £1.7!

The session was aimed to help you on your way towards (better) impact reporting. To do so, follow the following steps:

  1. Get a clear idea on WHY you need to report on impact
  2. Find out what a stakeholder wants and needs to know
  3. Choose the right objectives (OKR’s) and perspectives
  4. Gather the right data and information input
  5. Design your impact framework and form your supporting narrative

Last, there are some tips and tricks to make impact reporting fun!

  1. Collect stories as you go. This is perhaps the most important thing to prevent a bore-out. Impact reporting can be a pain if you have to assess all data in one point in time. Collect the stories throughout the year. Ask for volunteer experiences, organisation experiences, shoot a video, write a blog, record a podcast... The list can go on and on. Do this throughout the year, whenever you can, and communicate these stories on social media. This increases your reach (bonus: quantitative metric!), builds a community and recognises and values your community.
  2. Involve others, connect with partners. You don't have to do everything by yourselves. Involve partners, other team members, or voluntary organisations to write a guest post. Do this together and build a community!
  3. Use tools to help quantify impact. We would always encourage you to use our impact calculator to communicate your monetary impact even more precise!
  4. Find creative ways to tell your story. For example, use a webpage, interactive PDF, video, podcast, interview, survey, infographic, or a combination. There are so many options, use them!

Try the calculator now!