Before you put together a report, take a minute to focus on these questions:
- What key message do you want to convey?
- What primary audience do you want to communicate with regarding your project?
- What does this audience expect? What content, results and conclusions is it particularly interested in?
- What expectations does the audience have with regard to details and depth?
- How can you present your work and what you’ve achieved for outsiders in a way that is easily understood and rich in diversity?
When writing, try to strike a good balance between facts and discussion, as well as between heart and mind. For example, success stories from members of the support project’s target group can have an emotional appeal. Here, you could present specifically how the project has helped participants, from their own perspective.
If you’re reporting on a cooperative project, it’s necessary to involve the partners in your communications at an early stage and on an ongoing basis, or else support them with their own communications. Make an effort to work directly with the project managers in analyzing the project and choosing which results to highlight.
This doesn’t necessarily have to result in an evaluation; a final report is an effective medium as long as it includes the diverse perspectives of the target groups, cooperation partners and employees. However, it is essential that the report go beyond simply describing the use of resources, and also document the results and any additional findings. The previously mentioned SRS is a convenient instrument in this regard.
Communication is a process
Communication and the reporting of results are never a finished task; rather, this is an ongoing process. It’s worth the effort to keep this process underway, in part because the organization itself is the primary beneficiary of well-planned publicity work:
- It builds external trust, because funders and the public feel they’re being adequately informed.
- It reaches people who belong to the target group, but have not previously felt that the project was speaking to them.
- Internally, the debate over successes and missteps provides for good organizational culture, and promotes high-quality work.
The organization’s website offers a far-reaching, inexpensive and important instrument for the communication of your operating principles and results. In the next section, we’ll outline the information that should be put online.