Reporting is the process of writing up your data and analysis. Reports fall into two broad categories:
Internal – meaning they are for the board, staff, or other stakeholders in your organization. These are often used for strategic planning and program development.
- Annual reports
- Board reports
- Needs assessment reports
- Financial reports
External – meaning they are for funders, partners, public entities, or the general public.
- Grant/donor reports
Best Practices for Reports
These are some of the best practices for creating reports cited by harm reduction leaders:
- Make a plan – Make a plan for how you collect the necessary data and when you will do the write up – and stick to it. Note that this may include who you will need to contact for specific information.
- Don’t procrastinate – Do not put off gathering your data and information until just before your report is due – it only makes you miserable.
- Decide on who and what you need – When you begin writing, figure out who you’re writing for (donors/funders/board etc.) and what you need from them (more money/ a healthy relationship/ more support etc.). This will help guide your writing.
- Be brief – Keep brevity in mind when writing and try to edit for length.
- Make a skeleton – Make an outline before you start writing.
- Make a template – To save time with frequent reports, make an outline that you can save as a template for future reports of the same type.
- Illustrate your points with stories – Where possible and appropriate, use anecdotes to illustrate your point. Data can be dry and abstract while stories offer details for people to connect to.
- Read the instructions – This should go without saying, but make sure to do this even when you think you know what they are.
- Use another set of eyes – Have another staff person or colleague you trust read through, review, and edit your writing. For very small programs this is an excellent task for board members.