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Why Donor Impact Reports Work and How to Make One

Your donor impact report shows donors how much they matter to your cause and attracts new supporters.
Woman looking at reporting data.

How do your donors know what impact their donation is making for your organization?

How can they be sure that the money they give is going to good use?

They don’t unless you show them.

Creating an annual donor impact report allows your donors to see why their donations matter and how they’re spent. This report is a great way to share successes, talk about improvements, and entice supporters to play an even bigger role in your organization.

Why Should You Create A Donor Impact Report?

Creating a donor impact report builds trust between supporters and organizations by placing the donor at the center of the story with transparent reporting.

“A perceived lack of financial transparency, associations with scandals, and a belief that charitable money is being misused drive distrust in nonprofits, the survey found. For philanthropy, a lack of transparency and the idea that charitable giving is done for ulterior or nonaltruistic motives were commonly cited drivers of distrust in charitable giving.”

Donors are more compelled to contribute again in the future when they are provided insightful financial data from the organization. Use the total donations received and how those donations were spent to show your supporters that you appreciate them. This openness will help create a more long-term relationship.

Donor impact reports allow you to:

  • Tell your story and share successes in a way that demonstrates the need for more funding.
  • Showcase the impact your donors have made on the community you help.
  • Provide transparency and trust to current supporters and donors by giving them real data on your fundraising success and how the money is used.
  • Attract and engage new individual, corporate, and foundational donors by publishing these reports on your website.

Planning Your Donor Impact Report

Before creating your donor impact report, outline a plan for its content and structure. Your plan gives your team a clear vision of the data needed and how to present it to your readers.

While you’re planning, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will the report be sent to supporters? Will it be printed and mailed, or sent online?
  • Will you create a separate interactive website to engage donors, or will you have it as a page on an existing website?
  • Will you create a video?
  • How many stories will you share?
  • Will you use graphs and charts for data?
  • What specific accomplishments do you want to highlight?
  • Will you acknowledge donors in your report? If so, will it be all donors or just top donors?
  • How will you encourage future gift-giving?

Once you have all of the information outlined, you can begin compiling the data, stories, and information you need to create a donor impact report your donors will really embrace.

While there may be a lot of information you want to include in the report, it’s better to keep it short and sweet to not overwhelm the reader. The reality is that many may not read every single thing in the report and may just skim it. So it is critical to ensure you are using a creative tone in your report to make it easy to read.

Adding creative fonts, data visualizations and images will help minimize the amount of text, and engage your readers more effectively.

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What You Should Include In Your Donor Impact Report

Remember, this report is for your donors, so put yourself in a donor-centric mindset.

Think about details that a donor would appreciate and expect to find in an annual report. Below are some recommendations for what you should include. However, each organization is unique, so consider adding other elements your supporters might appreciate knowing.


Include a summary of your organization and mission at the beginning of your report.

You may think your supporters already know everything about your nonprofit, but often they do not know the full scope of your mission, who you support, and what you do. This is a great time to reinforce what your organization is about!

This section should answer the following questions:

  1. What is the mission or vision for the organization?
  2. What are future plans for the organization?
  3. How is the organization achieving their vision?
  4. Who does the organization help?
  5. What is the governance structure of the organization?


Stories should be the cornerstone of your annual fundraising report. Supporters love seeing how their donations are used.

This section should be engaging, educational and creative! Stories are the best way to create that emotional response you need to keep supporters engaged with your organization.

Write a unique story to focus on each accomplishment you want to highlight. Your stories should not only focus on those you are helping, but also the donors who give to your organization and volunteers that assist with your programs.

Here are some story ideas to consider adding:

  1. Reach out to your top donors and ask if they would be willing to share how donating to your organization has affected them personally.
  2. Interview someone who has benefitted from your work to show how your donors’ contributions make an impact..
  3. Ask a volunteer to provide a story about what it is like to work with your nonprofit and what it has meant to them to be a part of the organization.

These personal stories will help your annual report really speak to the reader. You can create your stories with video, images, or simple text. Testimonial quotes are also a great way to add some visual impact to a stories page.


This report is meant to further enhance your relationships with donors, volunteers, and staff by recognizing them and the value they add to your nonprofit. Talk about how your supporters have helped to create a better community through their generous donations and time, no matter how big or small their contributions

This page can include a full donor list or focus on major donors and corporate partners. If you have too many donors to list, then just listing donors over a certain dollar amount it is perfectly acceptable and often recommended to keep the page from becoming overwhelming.

When creating this page it is important to use terms that bring a sense of unity. Lines like “together we have helped…” or “your donations have helped us to…”.

Remember, this page is about your donors, supporters, and volunteers, so keep them as the focus of your writing.

Financial Information

Supporters want and deserve to know how your organization is using the money they donated. Your annual report needs to clearly show the donations you received and the way those funds were used.

When you create your financial statement, consider the following:

  • Include all revenue such as cash donations, product donations, government funding, and any other revenue source that may be unique to your nonprofit.
  • Show the source of your cash donations if possible. Note whether the donation was from a corporation, organization or individual.
  • Expenses should show the breakdown for things like administration, fundraising/marketing, supplies, professional fees, programs and any other specific items you had expenses for.

The more accurate the data you provide, the more your donors will trust and engage with you. If you can provide audited financials in your report, it is highly recommended and you should clarify that these numbers were audited to add an additional sense of trust. Include information about when and who audited your financial report.

GiveWP has a rich reporting function that includes on-screen reports that can be downloaded as a CSV file and an export feature that allows for fine tuning the information you download for your reports.

GiveWP fundraising reports include visualizations you can use in your donor impact report.

Explanation of Gift Impact

While donors may support you and be passionate about your mission, they may not have a clear picture of how their donation is making a difference. Whether they donate $50 or $5,000, the main reason for your donor impact report is to show them the impact they’re making.

As an example, an animal rescue organization can make the value of every size donation clear by explaining what each level of giving covers.

  • A donation of $5 will feed 1 homeless animal for 1 week.
  • A donation of $100 will provide toys for 20 homeless animals.
  • A donation of $500 will provide medical care for 2 homeless animals.

Imagine how many more $5 donations you might receive when you take away the concern that a small donation won’t make a difference. Use this opportunity to show potential and existing donors what impact even a few dollars has on your mission.

Visuals to Show Your Impact

Visuals greatly improve reader engagement and do a better job of delivering data and information in an easy-to-read format.

There are many ways you can incorporate visuals into your report, including:

  • Infographics
  • Images – single images or full galleries
  • Videos
  • Graphs and charts

Visuals should always include your brand colors and fonts for consistency. Make sure you leave plenty of space to allow the focal points of information to shine through. Whether you are sharing your annual report online or in print, make sure it is accessible for all readers.

Accessibility ensures that your website and printed materials are able to be seen by visitors that may have issues like visual impairments, mobility issues, or auditory issues. A few examples of how to improve accessibility on a website would include using high contrast text, ALT tags on images, and video captions. You can analyze your donor impact report using a free tool like WebAIM to ensure your report is properly accessible. To make your printed donor reports accessible some suggestions include using easy to read fonts, high contrast colors, large line spacing and left align text for easy reading.

Ask for Their Continued Support

Hopefully you have created such an amazing annual report that asking your donors to continue supporting you should be easy and expected. Take this opportunity to provide them some insight into what you have planned for the coming year.

  • Make them aware of any new partnerships.
  • Let them know about planned events and activities they can participate in.
  • Remind them of the ways they can give to your organization.
  • Share information about expected obstacles or struggles that you expect to encounter.

By outlining these items in your report you are showing your donors that their support is still needed while you continue fulfilling your mission.

Do not be afraid to add a clear call to action to ask them for specific help! This is the perfect time since you just finished telling them about all the amazing things they have done this year through their donations. They may feel extra generous and give again.

Using Fundraising Tools to Create Reports

Usually, one of the most stressful parts of creating a donor impact report is curating the data needed to include in the report. GiveWP makes this much easier. Your GiveWP export tools and reports will provide all the data you need to create the data source sets you want to provide to your supporters.

For example, GiveWP allows you to analyze your data based on campaign donations, top donors, dates, and more. These fundraising reports in GiveWP are a great first step to creating a donor impact report your supporters will love.

Using GiveWP with a great design, graphics, fonts, stories, and outreach for your donor impact report can help donors understand their importance to your mission and make them partners in your success.

If you want more information on how to use your Fundraising Reports in GiveWP, book a demo with our team.

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