The Power of story-making in Impact Reporting

No one ever made a decision because of a fact. They need a story. Daniel Kahneman

The best reports get funded

We live in a competitive world where organisations who report best, get funded. A good report can assist in aligning teams with funders and strengthening an organisation’s narrative. And if done well, reporting hugely enhances your organisation’s impact.

But the challenge often is that reporting on outcomes and activities is much easier than reporting on impact. Dave Duarte, keynote speaker at the recent launch of the Nation Builder Impact Reporting Guideline, believes in the power of narrative to bring impact reporting to life. This requires storytelling and story-making to aid the decision-making process. Essentially, if your organisation is impacting a thousand lives, you will have a thousand stories to create and tell.

The unplanned narrative

Dave continued to reference a beach cleanup in Mumbai, India, which went from filthy to 4000 tons of garbage being picked up on Versova Beach. It started with Mumbai lawyer Afroh Shah and his 84-year-old neighbor manually cleaning the beach in 2015, to celebrities joining the cleanup initiative and eventually inspiring the local community to keep it maintained. Today it is a turtle hatchery! It is when things didn’t go as planned that the learning happens, and a story gets life. It is through the unexpected that a story unfolds – the heart of story-making.

Co-creation for story-making

Storytelling is about the narrative you can control, whereas story making is about co-creation. Best reports reflect an organisation’s impact – it is a circular journey starting with your purpose, through the unexpected to your impact and results. Story-making should be integrated with an organisation’s impact reporting as it is a critical part of the institutional legacy. Don’t hide the variances when presenting your organisation’s stories, but rather bring your funders with you on the journey. Start conversations with your team to get to the narrative. Discuss results and gather insights from the team to co-create stories with them.

Tell your stories

Remember, impact reporting has great stories to tell!

Three elements of great social impact reporting, as defined by Mike Davis (Founder of Purposeful):

1.    Tell a good story

2.    Be transparent – show your vulnerability and what you’ve learned through the process.

3.    Communicate relevantly – find the narrative that relates to your target market.

*Dave Duarte was the keynote speaker at Nation Builder’s Impact Management Reporting Guideline launch – streamlining the reporting landscape for social  investors and NPOs. Dave specializes in digital leadership, story-making and innovation and has run digital campaigns in over 50 countries. Find out more at