Reporting on your mission is essential when trying to understand the outcomes of your efforts and telling that story to funders. Of course, as a nonprofit, you’re focused on serving individuals and their communities – not reporting. However, reporting plays a key role in proving your impact. Even though reporting is crucial for your organization, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Below are some tips to consider when building reports so you can display your data in a meaningful way and easily illustrate the impact of your organization.
1. Know Your Audience
When presenting graphs and charts that use your data to prove an impact and show the meaning behind your data, it is best to keep data as simple as possible. Consider your audience – are you presenting to very analytic people or more visual folk? Either way, it is best to air on the side of simplicity so your audience will have a full picture of your operations. Make your information clear and concise. If there are multiple reports to show, keep them cohesive and consistent.
Use visual elements to make this message more effective. In terms of how people consume data, the most important aspect to consider is the position of the information. Next, consider the use of color, then size, and lastly consider the use of shapes. Only include important information so your message is clear and your audience knows what to focus on.
2. Display Your Data in a Meaningful Way
Reports, whether they be graphs, charts, or text, have the same end goal: telling the bigger picture. Make the important data points stand out. Use visual elements to make this message more effective. In terms of how people consume data, the most important aspect to consider is the position of the information. Next, consider the use of color, then size, and lastly consider the use of shapes. Only include important information so your message is clear and your audience knows what to focus on.
Avoid making charts and graphs too complex. You never want your audience to be in a situation where they are forced to guess what the data is telling them. Remember that color perception is relative. Additionally, if the color doesn’t mean anything on the report, then it shouldn’t be there. It’s recommended to use up to 6 colors on a given chart. When using color, make sure it is appropriate for the message you are displaying.
3. Be Intentional with How You Display Your Data
Your reports shouldn’t just list numbers and information. They should be conveying the message of your mission and showcasing the impact your nonprofit has had on the community or individuals. The type of chart, the positions, use of color, etc. all play a part in the story you are telling. When using charts, be intentional with the way you display information. For example, if it is showing performance over time, a line chart may be best. If it is showing a couple of components that make up a whole, a pie chart may be used. If you are comparing categories of information, a bar chart may make the most sense. Think through your variables and how they are being displayed.
The elements mentioned above may make a bigger difference on your audience than you think. Combined, they can even manipulate the message of your mission. Overall, data plays a huge part in proving your impact and telling your story. Reporting allows this information to be consumed efficiently and effectively. And it’s even easier with the reporting tools available in Social Solutions’ case management software suite.