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End-of-Year Reporting: How Are You Collecting and Packaging Your Data?

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One

Kassandra Swenson

Marketing Operations Specialist, Forum One

A key component of finishing the calendar year off strong is to ensure that you are reporting on what you’ve achieved and identifying where there is room to grow. As you get started on sifting through your data reports and action items completed this year, carefully consider how you are packaging your data in the most impactful way.

When it comes to your reporting strategy, it’s important to keep in mind who your key stakeholders are, and how can you package your data and results in a way that speaks to them directly. Some of the biggest reporting challenges for nonprofits, associations, and foundations include:

  • Where to get the data: Some data is found easily in data dashboards, some is not. Knowing where and how to access the full package of data to even begin to review it is a real challenge, especially when data platforms aren’t connected to one another or aren’t online.
  • How to glean insights: Having the data is one thing, but knowing what insights to pull with confidence that it is the right picture is quite another. 
  • How to format the results: Presenting data findings in a way that makes sense and allows stakeholders to take action is extremely difficult, especially when stakeholders differ in their focus and approach across an organization.

First, set your data reporting goals

Don’t just open your Google Analytics dashboard and expect that your best insights will just pop out. That might actually just leave you more confused. Before searching for data, start with your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Setting your goals first allows you to anchor a reference point for success. 

If you haven’t defined KPIs for the year, or at least been specific enough in your targets, get a baseline of where you are now so that you’re in better shape for next year. You can also look back at where you were at this point a year ago, and take some insights from there. Regularly monitoring performance metrics or KPIs throughout the year allows you to know what you need. Then you can begin looking at your data with a direction and purpose in mind. 

Analyze with actionable data in mind

Once you have the numbers, how do you know which numbers matter more, and how to glean insights? Goal setting matters a lot here; for any piece of content we produced or action we took, we should know if they were trying to drive engagement or conversions. 

In terms of metrics, focus on engagement metrics (such as engagement rates or bounce rates), rather than vanity metrics (such as audience size or page views). And don’t only select the data points that are working; show what isn’t to make the case for resources for next year.

It’s also important to contextualize the data from your platforms with qualitative data, A/B testing results, survey results, and audience interviews. Quantitative data can tell us what is happening, but it often can’t tell us why is it happening. For that, we need to dig deeper. 

The goal with your analysis is to have actionable data. Data that helps you make a decision, refine your strategy, or optimize a channel. If you can’t do something with the data, it’s not supporting the story you need it to tell. 

Format for your stakeholders’ preferences and needs

Once you have a good sense of your analysis and recommendations, you need to think about how you package it for different decision makers within your organization. This might seem like the last thing you have time for; however, it is critical because how it is received strongly influences future decisions around budgeting, staffing and other resourcing going into next year. 

You want to strike a balance between highlighting success and showing where you need to go next, while not overwhelming your audience in the process. To do this effectively, it’s important to have a good understanding of communication preferences as well as methods and levels of data comfort for different groups of stakeholders. Here are three report formats we recommend:

  • For your team:  Focus on what you need for your team to be able to understand success and plan ahead. The key is to provide actionable data that will allow you to optimize and prioritize. Often, this is a much more in-depth and detailed report that you use to compare against various KPI targets.
  • For your departmental leadership: Focus on what your departmental leadership needs to understand successes and challenges, and support your growth. This is likely a combination of detailed information about what is or isn’t working particularly well, and a higher-level overview of your activities. The goal is to enable these individuals to advocate for more resources or changes in strategy.
  • For your executive leadership: Focus on what your executive and board leadership need to understand to make resourcing decisions. Often, this is a high-level report, focused on strategic, organization-wide metrics of success. Going into the fine details may cause their eyes to gloss over, or create frustration in not understanding how this data allows them to make decisions. This is where telling a story with your data is really valuable, because you may not have the opportunity to present this information in person or more than once. As you do this, make sure that the “so what?” is obvious.

Now that we have our data all wrapped up in a nice package, we can start thinking about new year planning, which we’ll be diving into next week! You can also revisit our webinar (see below) to get tips and resources on how you can be more efficient and effective this fall.

Get started already: watch the webinar!

Pull up your second screen and follow along with our webinar “Finish 2019 Strong, and Set Yourself Up for Success in 2020.” Complete the below form to get your free recording today.

Written By

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One

Kassandra Swenson

Marketing Operations Specialist, Forum One