How Street League created an award-winning Annual Report

February 20, 2018 at 12:20

Prior to winning the prestigious Third Sector Award 2017 for the best charity Annual Report, Street League wrote about how they managed the process, addressing the rough with the smooth – creating there golden rules for impact measurement, and how they created a social media buzz to achieve cut through.

This article originally appeared in Finance Focus, CFG’s monthly magazine for members.

It is vital that organisations are more open about their true impact, including what they don’t get right so that supporters get a more balanced view of how they are performing and how effective they are.

We set out last year to produce an annual report with a difference, one that went beyond just celebrating success but instead kick-started a movement in the industry towards greater transparency. We chose to talk up-front about all the things we didn’t get right, instead of only successes. The goal was to be bold and to encourage more charities to be transparent about challenges and how to learn from them.

The report was also underpinned by a social media campaign which challenged the sector to get behind a transparency revolution called #callforclarity. We publicly set out “three golden rules” that would help to provide greater transparency about true long-term change and encouraged others to do the same. The campaign was supported by 108 other organisations/individuals in the industry and many have already pledged to follow these golden rules within their organisations.

In addition to reporting on the financial health of the organisation, the aim of the report was to open the debate on transparency in the sector and share some simple, actionable guidelines that all charities (regardless of size or resource) could implement.

By talking openly about what we didn’t get right, we hoped to pave the way for others to do the same. The staff are committed and very effective, but it is difficult work and so can’t always get it right – we wanted to acknowledge that charity work should be difficult and so we should be taking risks in terms of the people we work with.

We wanted our impact to be viewed by more people than ever, including both current and future stakeholders. With a limited budget for printing and social media advertising, to reach the most people we knew we needed a bold, innovative approach that was inherently social and PR-led.

It was important to us to recognise the invaluable support of our staff, funders, employers and partners both within the report and in our distribution and campaigning. The goal was to make all staff feel valued and hopefully open the door for more future partners.

What was the impact of the report?

We received an overwhelmingly positive response to opening the debate on charity transparency and for our Three Golden Rules.

As well as being shortlisted for the Third Sector Excellence Awards for this Annual Report (the winners will be announced in September 2017) we also saw record social media support with 1.8million impressions and reaching 770,000 individuals. Support from the industry included organisations such as DCMS, Sport England, England Netball, British Rowing, Leap and Stonewall.

Our approach to transparency has also opened up new opportunities, with CEO speaking opportunities at Clore Social, Blackbaud Inspiring Impact, London Regional Impact Network, Creative Collisions Youth Sector Conference as well as being elected to the Guardian Public Leaders Editorial Advisory Board 2017.

What next for this year’s report?

This year we want to take this transparent approach further by focusing on two key themes – firstly the journeys young people take through our programmes, and secondly the key learning they can take from these journeys to improve what they are doing. All of this is working towards the goal of continuous improvement for the organisation.

Additionally, we are moving our reporting forward with:

  • A more integrated approach with both social impact and financial analysis combined together
  • Moving from annual reporting to online quarterly reporting with public dashboards
  • Opening up the debate on a shared set of impact measurement principles via an industry roundtable event.

Lindsey MacDonald from Street League will be speaking at our one-day Impact and Productivity conference on Friday 2 March. Find out more and book online.