Your impact report, also known as an annual report, is a powerful tool for your nonprofit organization to demonstrate the difference it makes in its community or cause. It helps build trust, engage stakeholders, and secure ongoing support. A good impact report combines storytelling and transparency. It comes together with planning, creative copy, and eye-catching design. 

 Here are 8 key steps to follow for creating an impact report that stands out: 

  1. Define Your Objectives and Audience: Tailor the content and design to the preferences and interests of your target audience, including donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, partners, institutional funders, and other stakeholders. Consider the objective of the report, which is to inform stakeholders, attract new donors, retain existing ones, and to document and celebrate achievements. This information will guide the content, design, and tone of the report. 
  2. Create an Impact Report Outline: Develop an outline of your impact report to inform the design and resources you need to gather. Common sections include an executive summary/letter from the Executive Director, a summary of achievements, an introduction to the organization’s mission quantitative data and findings along with client stories and testimonials), a conclusion highlighting your overall impact, a call to action, and a summary of organization financials (revenue and expenses). 
  3. Organize and source your information: Early on, gather data, along with stories, testimonials, and visual content, that demonstrate your organization’s impact, and highlight what you have achieved this year. Email key organization leaders to collect this information and create a central shared file with clear sub-folders for team members to add the necessary information. Make sure the information is up-to-date and receives the necessary approvals.  
  4. Write engaging copy: Beginning by drafting a donor-centric letter to supporters is a great way to set the tone for your impact report. This introductory letter is a space to highlight your organization’s recent successes, challenges, and plans with passion and authenticity. To craft engaging copy, be sure to incorporate storytelling and testimonials to support your relevant data. Keep your language clear and concise. Include content and language that inspires stakeholders to become more deeply involved and supportive of your mission.  
  5. Design for maximum Impact: An impact report should be clear, accessible, and visually appealing. It should have a clean layout, consistent branding, high quality, high-resolution visuals, and strategically use white space to enhance readability. Good design improves storytelling, captures attention, and inspires engagement with the organization’s mission.  
  6. Collaborate and outsource when necessary: Creating an Impact Report requires significant effort, skill, and resources. If you lack the personnel or time, consider seeking assistance from a partner. (See below about how My Philanthropy Team can help with the planning, writing, and design of your Impact Report.)   
  7. Get feedback, test, and refine: To ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of your impact report, it is important to solicit feedback and input from stakeholders to identify and address any errors or inconsistencies. This collaborative approach enhances the report’s quality, fosters transparency, and strengthens relationships with stakeholders. 
  8. Distribute and promote: To effectively reach your target audience, it is important to distribute and promote your impact report using a variety of channels. This can include both traditional methods and digital platforms to ensure maximum reach. 

Following these steps will help you produce a strong impact report that shows how your nonprofit organization has succeeded and persevered through difficulties, and how it has made a difference for your community or cause. The final product of your work will be inspiring to you, your staff, your beneficiaries, and, of course, your donors!  

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