When you need funding for your NGO or your project, your focus is probably on the fundraising process. You put all your energy and focus into writing proposals and sending them off – until finally, you get the grant. Congratulations, you made it! But don’t think your work is over now. We already explained in an article how important it is to write a thank you email to your donor. But there is more. After completion of the project, you will need to report on it.
The project report is the formal record of the entire process you undertook to complete your project. It reflects what we have done and what you have achieved. In this article, we explain, why reporting is as important as the proposal and what you should consider.
Why is reporting so important?
The report you send to the donor is the proof of the quality of the implementation of your project. The donor gave you money, and now they want to see what you did with it. If you ever want to have the chance to apply with the same donor or ask for a grant extension, you have to make sure that your report rocks. At the same time, when applying elsewhere you might need a recommendation. A past donor will base a recommendation on your project report, so it needs to be good.
Points to be considered while writing a Project Report:
Reporting starts at the beginning
Many NGOs approach reporting as the last step in a long process of project implementation. This can lead to problems though. Sometimes you need data you cannot obtain anymore at the end of the project, sometimes there are deadlines to report on milestones, and sometimes there is just not enough time budgeted for reporting. Make sure you do not fall into these traps.
When you get the notice that your NGO won a grant, make it one of the first steps to check their reporting requirements (after sending off your thank you email). Maybe you need to collect pictures or even videos along the process of implementation, maybe the donor wants you to compare specific numbers from before and after. It is always good to know from the beginning what you have to provide in the end to avoid waking up to some unwanted surprise.
Make sure you understand all requirements
Understanding all reporting requirements is crucial for a good report. This sounds very logical and simple but is actually an important step. Sometimes something sounds comprehensive when you just quickly take a glance, but when you actually want to implement it, you run into difficulties. If you have any unclarities, make sure to check back with your donor early on. This way, they know that reporting is a top priority for you and a task you took on early on in the process.
Watch out for what kind of visuals the donor wants to see. Many times, they will want to use pictures in their own marketing, so be sure you can provide high-quality images from every stage of your project. Sometimes they want you to prepare case studies, so make sure you identify potential participants early on in the process.
Leave enough time for your reporting
Towards the end of a project, things can become very rushed. The deadline is approaching quickly and there are so many tasks that still need to be done. Nevertheless, take enough time to prepare the report for your donor and do not rush it. Mistakes in your report are as bad as mistakes in a proposal. Make sure you double check all numbers and dates and have someone proofread your document before you send it off.