Reporting is a necessity for those in the nonprofit sphere. Many organizations need to report to foundations that have delivered funding to them. Foundations often have to report to a board of executives or their own donors. Also, for any organization that accepts donations, reports are a great way to signal to contributors that their funding is being put to good use. Unfortunately, while many communications have gone digital, a significant number of nonprofits still utilize paper-based reports. digital reporting is important nowadays.
As The Chronicle of Philanthropy pointed out, digitizing nonprofit reporting could be a key way to engage constituents. There’s a time and place for paper-based reports, but in the end, people are far less likely to see them. Also, new technology like grant or donation management software can automatically generate reports from data and make dynamic visualizations. Some nonprofits take the digital report one step further by creating interactive websites that portray key benchmarks from the year. Digital reports are user-friendly and enable readers to quickly see what they want.
The Rockefeller Foundation‘s 2012 Annual Report is one good example of this approach. The Water Project’s is another.
What does your digital reporting need?
Just like a paper-based report, there are certain elements that your report should include online. According to Wild Apricot, it’s important to keep your main audience in mind and use language that they will understand. Also, an executive summary is a must so that readers can quickly skim the most important data points. Next, a table of contents is helpful for easy reading. Since these elements will be online, you can make it even more streamlined and include hyperlinks to different sections.
You should also make sure you are relating all data and other points to your nonprofit’s mission to make the reading experience cohesive and powerful.
Going digital has other advantages as well. Putting reports online enables organizations to make these resources more engaging. Nonprofits can amp up the storytelling angle by including videos or high-quality images that demonstrate the organization’s impact over the year. Pages can be interactive and include animations that are engaged when a user hovers their mouse in certain spots.
Another benefit of an annual report that is in digital form is that it’s easy to share. You can write a blog post about the report and invite readers to visit it and even share it on social media and other digital channels.
The importance of data management
However nonprofits end up managing their reporting, the importance of software to maintain data cannot be understated. A grant or donation management platform such as CommunityForce’s can enable organizations to easily perform reporting capabilities. Digital reporting can be an awesome resource for organizations, but thorough reporting, no matter what the medium, is the most important consideration. Better tools allow better data collection and capture that can be used to improve impact for the better.