Impact reports are more than just a slideshow of facts and figures. They tell the story of your nonprofit, grabbing the attention of potential partners, donors and investors. With the right design skills, they can be packed with stunning visuals and catchy snippets of info that hook readers in. Here’s our beginner’s guide to creating an awesome impact report.

Need a little help creating your next impact report? Reach out to us today!


Come Up With a Killer Title

Coming up with a title beyond “Nonprofit name Impact Report” is an important part of the design process. A title needs to sum up the core of your nonprofit’s work and make the viewer want to read more. Good titles are:

  • Focused on people, not numbers
  • Tell a story in a few words
  • Highlight milestones, achievements or announcements

Creating a title that resonates with your target audience is the first step in creating an impact report that people actually want to read!

Take a look at the impact report for The Solutions Project. The title, “All Roads Lead to Climate Justice” leaves no doubt as to what this nonprofit’s focus is. It’s clear, impactful and inspiring.

Present Your Financials in a Clear and Concise Way

Readers don’t want to trawl through reams of detailed accounts. They want statistics and figures that pop and show where donations are going. Visual storytelling is the key to proving the impact your nonprofit had throughout the year.

Examples for visuals that present financials and other figures well include:

  • Pie charts — consider “exploded” pie or circle charts that show clearly defined amounts
  • Bar graphs are great for comparisons
  • Line graphs are awesome for showing changes over time
  • Symbols that relate to your nonprofit can highlight your impact in numbers — for example, if your nonprofit supports girls in STEM, you could use a string of stylized symbols, often associated with girls, to show a percentage of attendees to events or numbers of girls who benefited per year.

Connect With Your Supporters

Creating an emotional connection with your readers is a vital step in gaining the support of potential donors or partners. This means:

  • Avoid lists of statistics that don’t relate to anything meaningful
  • Share financials  with either visual or written storytelling, making those figures relevant to the reader
  • Add icons, quotes from beneficiaries, or praise from partners to make those facts and figures more than just a list of numbers

The Reach Capital impact report achieves this by keeping figures to a minimum and presenting them alongside fun imagery and statements about mission goals. Charts and visuals with a clear theme let the information flow naturally without being overstuffed with numbers.

Tell a Story

Stories are far more convincing than facts, according to Harvard Business School. Realistically, your facts and figures are there to back up your story, rather than the other way around. Make your impact report about the people you’ve helped and their responses to your efforts. Think about including:

  • Engaging case studies
  • Real-life stories from employees, beneficiaries or partners
  • Photos and videos of your nonprofit in action

Finally, make sure your impact report works digitally as well as on paper. Be sure to include direct links to relevant sources, blogs and supporting evidence for statistics. Readers appreciate having the relevant knowledge at their fingertips and can bookmark your impact report to return to — or share with others who can help spread the word about your fantastic nonprofit!

Further reading and resources:

  1. How to Create an Annual Report People Actually Want to Read
  2. All Roads Lead to Climate Justice
  3. 5 Ways to Improve Your Impact Report
  4. How We Invested
  5. What Makes Storytelling So Effective For Learning?
  6. Why Nonprofits are Making the Switch from Paper to Digital Annual Reports