June 18, 2024

Impact Reporting Insights from Altum’s Executive Roundtable

Impact Reporting Webinar


Impact reporting is essential to ensuring grant funds are effective and that their benefits are clear to stakeholders. At our recent executive roundtable, industry leaders gathered to discuss best practices, challenges, and innovative solutions in impact reporting. Here are the key takeaways from the roundtable.


The Importance of Impact Reporting in the Clinical Community

Impact reporting is about translating data into meaningful insights that showcase how funding impacts people’s lives. This is particularly significant in the clinical community, where support from donors, investors, and private practitioners hinges on the perceived value of their contributions. Demonstrating cost savings and tangible benefits as a result of funded projects can significantly bolster support. For instance, highlighting how a funded project has led to improved patient outcomes or cost-effective treatments can be a powerful way to show impact.

Moreover, the clinical community values evidence-based outcomes that demonstrate real-world applications of research. It’s important to communicate these outcomes in a way that resonates with stakeholders, using clear, relatable stories and data that highlight the human aspect of scientific advancements. By doing so, organizations can build stronger relationships with their supporters, ensuring continued funding and advocacy for future projects.


Reporting Long-Term Impact

A notable challenge discussed was how to report long-term impacts, which may only become apparent years after the initial funding. Participants pondered how to effectively communicate such impacts every quarter. This includes finding less manual ways to demonstrate return on investment, such as through persistent identifiers (PIDs) and automated tracking systems. These tools can help maintain a continuous record of impact, making it easier to report on long-term benefits even when the initial project has concluded.

Addressing long-term impact reporting also involves developing frameworks that can capture and articulate the delayed effects of funded research. This could mean creating interim milestones to provide a glimpse into the progress or developing projection models that estimate future impacts from current data. By setting clear expectations and methodologies for long-term reporting, organizations can provide a more comprehensive picture of their funding’s effectiveness.


Overcoming Data Collection Challenges

Data collection remains a labor-intensive process, often exacerbated by the use of tools like Excel and Google Alerts. The use of platforms like Altum’s ProposalCentral streamlines the process. ProposalCentral simplifies data collection and integrates with ORCID and Crossref to ensure comprehensive tracking and reporting. Centralized platforms can automate many aspects of data collection, reducing the burden on staff and increasing the accuracy of collected data.

Moreover, the integration of these platforms with existing data systems can provide a more holistic view of the impact. For instance, linking ProposalCentral with ORCID ensures that researchers’ outputs are automatically tracked and reported, providing a seamless and accurate account of their work. This integration saves time and enhances the reliability of the data, which is crucial for making informed decisions and demonstrating impact.


Crafting Effective Progress Reports

Progress reports are essential for continuous monitoring and impact assessment. The roundtable emphasized the need for detailed data points and lay abstracts within these reports. ProposalCentral offers templates that can aid in structuring these reports effectively.

Progress reports should be designed to communicate both quantitative and qualitative outcomes. Quantitative data provides measurable evidence of progress, while qualitative insights offer context and narrative that can make the data more relatable and compelling. By balancing these elements, organizations can create more engaging and informative reports that effectively convey the impact of their work.


Enhancing Awardee Compliance

Ensuring compliance from awardees, especially those who might have moved to different organizations, can be challenging. Recommendations included making the reporting process straightforward and requiring ORCID IDs to maintain consistent tracking. Additionally, non-institutional email addresses should be used to ensure continuity. Simplifying the reporting process and making it as user-friendly as possible encourages compliance and ensures that data collection remains consistent over time.

Another strategy to enhance compliance is to establish clear guidelines and expectations from the outset. Providing awardees with detailed instructions and support can help them understand the importance of their reporting and how to complete it effectively. Regular check-ins and reminders can also help keep awardees on track, ensuring that they meet their reporting obligations even if they have moved to a new organization.


Engaging Stakeholders through Diverse Channels

The audience for impact reports is diverse, ranging from board members and donors to the general public and awardees. It’s crucial to tailor the communication to the interests of these different groups. For example, while board members and donors might be interested in detailed reports and analyses, the general public is more concerned with the real-world impacts of the funded research. Platforms like blogs, LinkedIn, and other social media channels (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) can be utilized to reach a wider audience. Each platform has its strengths and can be used to target specific segments of the audience effectively.

Moreover, using a variety of communication channels ensures that the impact message reaches stakeholders where they are most active. Social media platforms can be particularly effective for engaging younger audiences and creating viral content that spreads the message more widely. Professional networks like LinkedIn are ideal for sharing detailed reports and connecting with industry peers. By leveraging the strengths of each platform, organizations can maximize their reach and impact.


Collaborative Content Generation

Generating content for impact reports can be a collaborative effort between funders and awardees. Researchers might contribute by sharing their findings on LinkedIn or other professional networks. This collaborative approach ensures the content is accurate and comprehensive, and helps build stronger relationships between funders and researchers. It fosters a sense of shared purpose and mutual support.

Additionally, involving awardees in the content generation process can provide unique insights and perspectives that enrich the overall narrative. Researchers can share firsthand accounts of their work and its impact, adding a personal touch that resonates with readers. This collaboration can also help ensure the content is tailored to the specific interests and needs of different audiences, making it more effective and engaging.


Leveraging Altum Analytics for Impact Reporting

Altum Analytics was highlighted as a powerful tool for benchmarking and monitoring the reach and effectiveness of funding programs. By comparing the number of applications and funding amounts, funders can gain insights into the success and areas for improvement in their programs. This data-driven approach allows for more informed decision-making and helps ensure that resources are allocated effectively.

Furthermore, the analytics can provide valuable feedback on the overall impact of funding initiatives. By tracking key metrics and performance indicators, funders can identify trends and patterns that indicate the success of their programs. This information can be used to refine funding strategies, improve program outcomes, and demonstrate the value of funding to stakeholders.


Expanding Altum’s Marketing Service Offering

To enhance impact reporting and reach more applicants, participants discussed utilizing Altum’s marketing services. This includes leveraging Altum’s network for broader dissemination. By expanding its marketing services, Altum now helps organizations maximize their reach and engage more effectively with their target audiences. This strategic approach to marketing can enhance the visibility and impact of funded projects, help attract more applicants, and build a stronger reputation for the organization.

Impact reporting is a multifaceted process that requires careful planning, efficient data collection, and strategic communication. The insights from Altum’s executive roundtable provide a comprehensive guide for funders looking to optimize their impact reporting efforts. By embracing digital tools, engaging stakeholders through diverse channels, and leveraging collaborative content generation, funders can ensure their contributions are effectively communicated and appreciated.

For more insights, access our recent impact reporting webinar on demand.