Shifting the Sector Away from Reporting as a Burden

Nonprofit success hinges on robust relationships with donors,  however, these same trusted funders do not understand reporting as a burden for organizations. Often, these benefactors request extensive reports or proof of fund utilization, inadvertently burdening both the nonprofits and the donors themselves. What if technology could be leveraged to address the transparency donors seek. While alleviating the strain on organizations at the forefront of doing good?

Grant Applications and Reporting as a Burden

The average cost of preparing a grant application ranges from $600 to $18,000, with substantial time investments. For instance, crafting a foundation grant may take 30-50 hours, a state grant 60-80 hours. Drafting and submitting a more complex federal grant, a minimum of 120 hours (Calculating the True Costs of Grants, Grantcycle). This excludes the additional costs associated with reporting as a burden on these applications. Imagine reclaiming that money and time to redirect it toward your programs. Surely, aligning these savings with your mission would resonate with donors and funders.

The Case for Change

Conversations often revolve around donors waiting for a thank-you before being approached for another gift. Fundraisers tirelessly nurture relationships, acknowledging the inundation of donor emails. What donors seek beyond gratitude is understanding—how were their funds utilized? Answering this question is an opportunity for organizations to build trust and transparency. Building this into their donor relationships without adding additional burdens.

Why is Impact Reporting Valuable?

Impact reporting holds intrinsic value. It allows organizations to communicate progress toward social impact and sustainability goals, meeting stakeholder expectations (Impact Reporting: Showcasing Effective Change, Sopact.) It is not just about positive stories but an honest account of a business making a difference. While also understanding and learning from outcomes. This transparency promotes trust among all audiences (Six Reasons Your Business Needs an Impact Report, Little Black Book) .

Streamlining Reporting Processes

Technology and automation can be pivotal for nonprofits. As Sevetri Wilson, Founder & CEO of Resilia, notes, “Technology is a powerful tool for accountability because it can help organizations gather data on their programs’ effectiveness while streamlining the process of reporting those data to grantors and other stakeholders” (Why Tech Adoption is Crucial for Accountability in the nonprofit sector, NTEN). Taking away reporting as a burden through streamlining the way you capture and share information is key. It can be critical for nonprofit organizations to ensure they are not constrained by the weight of reporting. 

Shifting to Impactful Communication

Nonprofits should shift from traditional reporting to data-driven storytelling. Combining data with a narrative about impact and outcomes assures donors that their contributions are making a meaningful difference. Consider how donors consume information; present data in easily accessible formats, such as infographics or charts.

Building Trust Through Transparency

Furthermore, for nonprofits, transparency can replace exhaustive reporting. Demonstrating how funds were spent and the resulting impact can be achieved through methods like transparent spreadsheets, as exemplified by Watsi, which shared a comprehensive list of treatments funded over the past decade.

Tools and Resources

Additionally, utilizing existing tools like spreadsheets, websites, and communication platforms. Leverage fundraising solutions like Wishes, where transparency is paramount. Encourage funders to support the tools you employ and educate them on the time invested in generating the requested reports.

In the landscape of nonprofit endeavors, the transition from viewing reporting as a burdensome obligation to considering it an integral part of organizational practices marks a pivotal shift. By recognizing the challenges posed by extensive reporting requirements, nonprofits can embrace technology and innovative solutions to not only streamline processes but also enhance transparency for their valued donors.

The arduous costs and time investments associated with grant applications can be redirected toward the very programs that drive the mission of these organizations. This potential redirection of resources aligns with the interests of donors and funders who, undoubtedly, would prefer to witness their contributions making a direct and tangible impact on the causes they support.

Finally, building trust through transparency emerges as a cornerstone of strong donor relationships. By openly sharing how funds are utilized and the resulting impact, nonprofits can forge deeper connections with their supporters. The spotlight on transparency doesn’t merely replace exhaustive reporting; it becomes a beacon guiding nonprofits toward a more open, honest, and accountable mode of operation.

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About the Author

Annie Rhodes

Annie Rhodes


Annie Rhodes has spent over 25 years in the philanthropy and tech sector helping social good organizations embrace data to drive impact. Annie joined the Wishes team to help strengthen the connection between those who want to give and the causes they want to give to. Prior to Wishes Annie was the Chief Strategy Officer at UpMetrics. Preceding Annie’s leap into philanthropic tech in 2010 she spent more than 10 years at the Ford Foundation. Annie taught a part-time class at Columbia University’s SPS Nonprofit Masters Program and Nonprofit Analytics and Metrics. She holds an MBA from Pace University and is an active volunteer with Girls on the Run NYC and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.



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