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Is reporting the social impact of your NFP worth it?

15 March 2022 at 8:46 am
Maggie Coggan
According to the latest research, it definitely is 

Maggie Coggan | 15 March 2022 at 8:46 am


Is reporting the social impact of your NFP worth it?
15 March 2022 at 8:46 am

According to the latest research, it definitely is 

Australians are around 85 per cent more likely to engage with and trust an organisation that clearly communicates its social impact, new research shows. 

According to a report from strategic research company McCrindle, the majority of Australians surveyed expected charities and not for profits to provide the same standards of social impact reporting as they do from the business sector. 

While the majority of respondents were not familiar with specific impact reporting terms such as “environmental, social and governance (ESG)”, “triple bottom line” (which refers to people, planet and profit), or “a social licence to operate”, they did want to know what an organisation was doing to reduce its environmental impact, what it was doing to lift staff morale and wellbeing, and what its social impact was. 

Sophie Renton, author of the report, told Pro Bono News that because social impact reporting was a relatively new practice and there weren’t many guidelines around it, organisations could report on their impact in a way that aligned with their organisation. 

“What this research shows is that Australians aren’t just interested in what an organisation has done, but what has actually happened because of it,” Renton said. 

“How has the beneficiary benefited because of this activity? How has an organisation made a positive impact on the environment through what they’ve done?” 

Gaining the trust of the public

With the global Edelman Trust Barometer finding the business sector more trustworthy than NGOs, Renton said that effectively communicating impact was a great way to boost trust in the community. 

She added however that organisations needed to do that transparently. 

“This isn’t just about releasing a report card that shows you’re A+ on everything, because people know that no organisation is perfect,” she said. 

“It’s about identifying what you’ve achieved, what you haven’t yet achieved, and how you are going to get where you need to be.”

Bite-sized information

When it came to actually sharing impact, the report found that most people spent between two and five minutes engaging with an organisation’s content to understand its social impact. 

The most effective ways to share information was via video summaries, infographics, interactive web reports, or articles on a regular basis. 

For younger generations, podcasts also ranked as an effective way to convey impact. 

Renton said that these particular findings showed that NFPs didn’t need to spend months compiling a large-scale report to demonstrate their impact. 

“Of course, things like annual reports are also important to demonstrate impact, but it can be anything that creates more engagement,” she said.

“I think the bit of advice I would give is just to start somewhere. You don’t need to wait until you’ve got it perfect before you start communicating it.” 

See a full copy of the report here.

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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