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I remember as a kid bringing home my school report with a touch of fear and trepidation. What were the teachers going to say about me? Of course, I didn’t understand then it was not so much about me but about my performance. 

Reports are nothing new and come in many different forms. We have all had report cards from school, we receive letters or emails from a friend or family member from overseas that reports back on what they are doing, and what they experience. We take our car to the garage and get a report back on all the things that failed and need fixing before it can pass the warrant or MOT.  Journalists are also called reporters; they tell us what is happening in our country and across the globe.

Every Charity needs to provide some form of reporting. The most common reports will be those passing on information to your constituents. Eg. Board Members, Donors, Volunteers, Partners, etc. Depending on your charity status you may also need to send reports to government departments ie. The Charity Commission.

In this blog, I will share some reports that will be helpful to your charity, how to get the data for your report, and how you can use reports more creatively.

What does a charity need to report on?

Just like in school, your report is based on your performance, both financial and non-financial.

The board wants to know if you have received enough donations to be able to carry out your purpose for the foreseeable future. The donors want to know how much they contributed to the success of your charity and how their dollars made a difference in someone’s life. The governing authority wants to know your financial status and if you are in fact carrying out your purpose. e.g. As a food bank, you are providing food parcels for your community.

Here are some examples of what you can find out using the following reports:

Financial reports – Like any business you need to report on your monthly transactions and year-end financials, how much funds were received, and funds that were spent. More details like where did the funds or donations come from?  A breakdown of funds received and/or spent in different regions or categories. Knowing the funds on hand and how the funds are coming in will allow you to make budgets and plans for the new year ahead. In other words, A profit and loss report and balance sheet, etc.

Campaigns – Which campaign raised more funds than another? You can drill down why one was more successful than another. Knowing how successful a campaign was means you can report back to the donors on what you have achieved. Also knowing how many emails were sent, how many were opened, how many links were clicked on, how many unsubscribes you got back, and how many donations you received.

Donor reportsKnowing who your top donors are and how much they are donating is important so you can give them the thanks and respect they deserve. Knowing them often means they align with your mission and you may want to contact them again for further funding.  We had one client who recently moved over to infoodle, who told us they thought a particular donor had only donated $7,000,  when running their report in infoodle they found that he had donated $80,000. A huge difference. Read more about this “How Wishlist benefited from moving to infoodle”.

N.B. A good report to run regularly is for donors who have not given over a certain period of time, particularly if they are normally regular donors so you can contact them. 

Statements & Receipts – You may also send a report to your donors in the form of a statement or receipt listing all the transactions you have received from them. Usually, this will accompany a letter of thanks and appreciation detailing how their donations have contributed to the project’s success.

Performance or Productivity – You need to report what your charitable purposes are and how you have carried out your mission and purpose. How successful or unsuccessful you have been? For example, as a Food Bank, you can report on the number of parcels distributed but also the number of people affected, the social and economic situation of those you have helped, etc. Other services you may provide such as budgeting classes, cooking classes, and how many have attended these classes. Charities also need to record and report on the number of volunteers and volunteer hours used. 

Depending on the sector you work in there may be more segmentation of data required in your reports, e.g. age and gender, ethnicity, skills, employment, etc. All this information needs to be recorded before you can generate a report.

As well as year-end reporting, there is daily operational reporting that can help your day-to-day administration.

How do I collate the data for my reports?

The best way is to use a Database or CRM. Some people may enter data into a spreadsheet and call this a database, but this is often cumbersome, and not a good way to store data that is easy to access, and easy to generate reports from. A cloud-based CRM like infoodle, Hubspot, or Beacon is a much better option.

Data can be collected and added in several ways – using Data import tools that upload a CSV or Excel spreadsheet. The platform you use should also be able to run a duplicate check.

Integration – Direct import from other software platforms like Xero and payment gateways such as Stripe. This means there is no manual handling and less chances of errors.

Forms – Online forms are versatile and mean you don’t have to do all the data entry. Your constituents can complete the forms. Using the food bank I am a part of as an example, we have application forms on our website. The applicant completes all the details about their household and submits the form which automatically notifies the team so they can prepare a parcel to the right specifications. They then add the date it was delivered and you can generate your reports.

For donations – You can have a form on your website that the donor completes. The payment gateway manages the transaction and sends it to your bank, Xero picks up the transaction and passes it on to infoodle. Easy!

Manual data entry – needs to be done carefully, being human we can make some mistakes, so keep manual data entry to a minimum.

Getting the data right

There is an expression, “Rubbish in, Rubbish out.” This is very true for your database. You must enter the information before you can extract the information, and if the information is not good, you will not get the results you want.  Clients sometimes ask us how to generate a certain report, the answer is always “How did you record the information?” If you didn’t capture the information, you can’t report on it. Seems basic, but can be overlooked.

I often tell our clients to work backwards. What results do you want to have in your reports? This dictates how you enter the data.  i.e. You need to know who is due for a police check renewal this month. You will need to enter the date when the person was last police checked. Depending on how often the check needs to be renewed, it could be every 3 years. So, therefore, the best way to enter the data is by entering the date when the next police report is due, and generating your report to show what is due next month or 2 months depending on how long it takes to renew.

Capturing data can be recorded via Text fields, Notes, Look up lists, Yes/No, Date fields, Integer, Decimal point fields, Groups, etc. If you need to record the number of food parcels you deliver, think about how this is recorded. If you only use a yes/no field then the data may not give you enough information. You will need to record the date a parcel was received And was this their first, 2nd, or 3rd parcel.

Using reports creatively

Reports give you the information you need when making presentations or decisions but can also be used in the day-to-day operation of your charity. 

Here are a few examples;


We all like to receive acknowledgment of important events in our lives. When working with volunteers this is a great way to show how much you value your volunteers. Recording special events like birthdays and anniversaries means you can send a card and thank them for their service at the same time. It is also good to record the date they started as a volunteer so you can acknowledge their long service. 

Having the ability to generate an anniversary-type report is vital for any charity and can be used for a variety of scenarios; Reporting years of service, years as a donor or client,  police checks, first aid training refresher courses, or other training course renewals, licence renewal, birthdays and other anniversaries, these are just a few.


Using reports to match a volunteer with a client based on skills or other criteria can be important in your operation. Say you work with the elderly and you provide a service that helps them around their home. You have someone who needs help with trimming a large hedge and lives in a particular neighbourhood. Having the ability to run a report in your database that matches the volunteer who has the tools and skills to trim a large hedge, a trailer to take away the off-cuts, and lives in the local area should be easy.

Mailing lists

There will be fields, tags, or groups in your database that can be used to generate the criteria you need for reports for newsletters and other mailouts. Having a database that allows you to save report criteria makes generating regular reports quick and easy.

Being able to easily generate a report on certain criteria is a must. Perhaps you want to start a fundraising campaign and you want to invite people who contributed to a previous campaign to donate again. Or people who attended a previous event, you want to invite them to the next event. Or maybe you want to invite all guardians and carers who have pre-schoolers and live in a certain area to the opening of your new childcare centre. Using reports you can quickly generate a mailing list to send out invitations.  

Bulk Changes

For me, one of the most helpful areas of infoodle reporting is having the ability to make bulk changes in the database via reports. Together with infoodle workflows I can easily add a bulk number of contacts to a group, change a field, or send an email.


There are lots of good reasons to track attendance and look at these reports.

  1. In case of Emergency – Being able to check in (and check out) children, students, and attendees into classes or events means you can generate a report; in case of emergency, you have an accurate list. 
  2. Pastoral care – Tracking attendance also means you can make a pastoral visit to a family who regularly attended but have dropped off suddenly. Perhaps there has been an illness or bereavement you were not aware of.
  3. Success – Knowing the number of attendees to classes shows how successful a particular class is. Also shows trends in attendance, or how many people dropped off later in the term.
  4. Funding – Some funders donate based on the number of participants so you need to be able to show how many people are attending and how much funding is needed.


Reporting is essential to the day-to-day operations of any charity as well as for the annual financial and activity reporting required. In order to know how successful any program or project has been you need to record information that can report and measure its success, or failure. Knowing the state of operations means you are able to move forward with confidence or if you need to adjust or pivot your operations. Knowing the state of your staff, volunteers, clients, and donors means you can function as a team, and carry out your charitable purpose.

-Aukje Smith,

Infoodle Sales Executive and Founder
Food Hub Volunteer and Trustee