No doubt the results of your data analysis have filled your head with new ideas. Now you must convert that mass of material into a story that does justice to your findings and makes sense to whoever’s reading it.
Stakeholders will be reassured to see that you care about transparency and accountability in your reporting, building trust. At the same time, demonstrating and communicating your impact can raise awareness of what you do and the issues you work on, potentially leading to new partnerships and additional funding, while helping to build the evidence base for what works.
Most importantly, sharing the findings within your own organisation is vital for reviewing your performance against key goals. You can develop a learning culture where staff focus on how to adapt and improve programmes or services.
Here we guide you through different ways to share your findings with stakeholders.
How to share your findings
1. Think about your audience
Whether you’re communicating with funders, the public, beneficiaries, policymakers, or your team, present the findings in a way that takes into account what’s most important to them. You may want to talk to different audiences before deciding what to share.
Consider the following points:
● What kind of information do they need? For example, do they need to know more about the difference you’ve made or the way you’ve delivered your work?
● Why do they need the information? What do you want them to do as a result?
● How should you format the information? For example, would a written report, an infographic, or a face-to-face presentation be most engaging?
Deciding how to structure your story will make it easier and more satisfying to read. For example, you could:
● Raise and answer questions: Lead with the assumptions behind your theory of change, revealing the ways in which your findings support or do not support them.
● Draw on key themes: Highlight the key themes your work embraces – social inclusion or community development, for example – and explore how your findings shed light on these concepts.
● Focus on experiences: Use interesting and important case studies or examples to explore the broader findings of your research. This will open up opportunities to discuss any unintended outcomes.
Remember to report with integrity and stay true to the core principles of good impact practice. Reflect on the limitations of your findings, honestly, while also celebrating your successes. This will establish the credibility of your research and build trust with your audiences.
Spoken formats can be engaging and interactive and they can provide opportunities to hear the voice of your beneficiaries or evaluation participants. Examples include:
● Presentations: A presentation could mean PowerPoint, Prezi, videos, flip charts or posters. Decide how much you want to interact with your audience and what questions you want to ask them, as well as what they might want to ask of you. You could also record the presentation so others can watch it after the event.
● Podcasts: Podcasts are a popular way to communicate detailed information. Try to have multiple voices in your podcast. A question and answer format can be engaging. Use a fairly loose script, so it sounds natural. It can be helpful to open your podcast with a compelling case study.
● Videos: Videos could be an audio recording over slides, illustrations or cartoons, or filmed clips from your evaluation participants and activities. Videos are easy to share with a wider audience. They are emotionally engaging and tend to focus on stories rather than numbers. Allow time for practising, recording, and editing. You can embed shorter videos into presentations or online reports. If you do this, remember that the video may be watched out of context.
Written formats include shorter or more action-oriented formats of the traditional impact report.
● Summary reports: Summaries include key findings and recommendations from a main report. They may also include visual aids such as charts. Summary reports are particularly good for audiences who don’t need all the detail; trustees or policymakers, for example. Tailor it to your audience and write it as a stand-alone document that can be read by people who haven’t read the main report. Provide links to the detail so people can delve deeper if they want to.
● Blogs and newsletters can highlight key findings and recommendations, or share what you learned about the process of carrying out impact practice. They can be written for internal or external audiences. Blogs usually focus on a particular angle and normally have a short shelf-life. You could use a ‘top five’ format to communicate the most important findings or recommendations.
Visual formats can communicate detailed information in a small space. Some visual formats can also be included in written reports, summaries, blogs, or presentations. More information on visual formats is included in the next section ‘visualise your data‘. A number of tools and channels can help make your content more engaging, whatever format you choose. For example:
● Canva is a great tool for designing and infographics.
● Podbean allows you to host your podcast so you can broadcast your story to the world.
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