8. Reporting on Results /

8.2 Producing suitable written reports


We use a reporting method and writing style that suits our audiences and their needs.

To meet the standard in full, you report using documents that are suitable, interesting and relevant to your audiences – for example, reports, blogs, newsletters, bulletins, or postcards. The depth of your report reflects the scale and complexity of your work.

Despite a wide variety of possibilities, most social enterprises default to presenting evidence in some form of written format.

Done well, the narrative contained in written reports provides a great opportunity to communicate fully your performance and impact.

While the exact content will vary, most conventional written reports set the following basic elements:

  • What you expected to do
  • What you actually did
  • What difference this made
  • Any challenges and changes
  • Your learning for the future

Like all great stories, the best reports are those written in an engaging, personal, and accessible way.

Impact reporting can, however, take a surprising variety of written forms, each designed with a separate purpose in mind:

  • Longer, technical reports where a full and balanced account is required of your evidence, interpretation, and priorities for action.
  • Short formats and summary reports that get across your main messages in a concise and engaging style.
  • Board reports and annual reports that distil information about the progress you are making and where you need to go next.
  • Blog posts that are short, engaging and focus on a particular aspect of what you have learned or achieved.
  • Newsletters and email communications that communicate main messages and signpost to further information.
  • Postcards that use a combination of words, numbers and images to convey your messages succinctly and call others to action.

Whatever format you select, try to ensure that you start with a clear purpose, plan your structure around the story, and keep it simple. Write as concisely as possible, focusing on the needs of readers and only the information they need to understand your story.

Course 8 in the Impact Practice series from the Social Enterprise Institute provides tips on a variety of written reporting formats.