Fewer than one in ten charities mention impact in annual reports

Study from Charity Finance Directors' Group and Cass Business School finds that long-term achievements are rarely explained

Charity Finance Directors' Group
Charity Finance Directors' Group

Only 8 per cent of charities provide information on the impact of their work in their annual reports, according to a new study.

Impact Reporting in the UK Charity Sector, published by the Charity Finance Directors’ Group and Cass Business School, is based on a survey of CFDG members and an assessment of 75 charity annual reports.

It says that 68 per cent of charities report the short-term effects of their actions – their outcomes – but only 8 per cent explain their long-term achievements – their impacts.

The report says that about a third of charities do not consider impact reporting worth the cost, and that many find it difficult to obtain good data in order to carry it out.

"There is a gap between the theory of impact reporting, in which the government and sector specialists suggest that all charities can and should measure and report on their impact, and what is actually happening in practice," the report says.

"This reinforces the view that the sector and the government need to reassess expectations of what is practical or desirable for charities to measure on a regular basis."

The report says, however, that charities should not be forced into impact reporting, particularly by a "one-size-fits-all" approach, and if funders want charities to report their impact, they should be prepared to cover those costs.

The report was written by Paul Breckell, managing director of corporate resources at the RNID, with Kate Harrison and Nicola Robert, two recent Cass Business School graduates.

The CFDG has formed an Impact Reporting Steering Group, with Breckell as chair, to improve its impact reporting services to its members.

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