What if my grantee’s Social Impact Report start and end dates don’t align with their grant agreement?

Sometimes a grantee’s Social Impact Report period (i.e., the start and end dates) aligns with their grant agreement, but not always. This article explains why.

What is a report period?

True Impact guides grantees to define their Social Impact Report period as the length of time it takes for their program to fully deliver its services to a set group of beneficiaries. Thus, the start and end dates of the social impact report are defined by the implementation schedule of the program -- not the funding cycle of the donor. 

This allows the nonprofit to provide its donors a full accounting of the program’s social value for a complete implementation cycle, from which the True Impact platform will calculate the donor’s contribution claim (i.e., the proportion of social impact claimed equals the proportion of the program funded) or attribution claim (i.e., the net change in impact clearly and solely attributable to the donor’s support).

This time period is found near the top of a completed Impact Receipt, underneath the Location field. 

For programs with defined start and end dates (e.g., a training initiative), the nonprofit will use those dates to define their reporting period. However, there are several exceptions:

  • The program doesn’t have formal start or end dates. Some programs provide continuous services without set start and end dates (e.g., homeless shelters or food pantries). In those cases, a reporting period will typically align with the nonprofit’s fiscal year (often, but not always, January 1 to December 31). 
  • The grantee’s report period includes planning or start-up activities. New programs, or programs that are building human capital or infrastructure prior to delivering services, will set the start date for when the development activities started, and the end date as the completion of the first full implementation period of services (i.e., when they will actually begin generating the social impact). Examples of development activities include:
    • Program feasibility studies
    • Construction or repair of a building 
    • University partnerships with the intention of hiring new faculty or strengthen university labs
  • The grantee’s program takes longer than one grant cycle to fully implement. Some programs take longer than one year to fully implement their program design and begin generating results. While your grant agreement might be structured annually, the program’s implementation activities extend beyond one year. For example, a policy initiative might take longer than one year (or grant agreement cycle) to launch a campaign, engage policy makers, educate the public, and produce policy change.  Other examples include:
    • Environmental partnerships with long term goals
    • Public awareness campaigns 
  • The grantee’s program supports a cohort of individuals over a span of multiple years. Certain educational programs take a cohort approach such as a three-year apprentice program. In this case, the grantee’s report period should capture the outcomes of a three-year cohort (e.g., participants in a three-year apprentice program starting in 2021 would be in the 2021-2024 cohort; while participants starting the following year would be in the 2022-2025 cohort). Your grant agreement might capture one year of program implementation but the report period should capture the amount of time it takes for the apprenticeship program to deliver services and produce results for each cohort.
  • The grantee’s program is a short-term activity. While your grant agreement might cover a full year, some programs operate over a shorter period of time. True Impact guides grantees in capturing the amount of time it takes for their program to generate results even if that time period is very short. Examples of these kinds of programs include:
    • Short-term educational and professional development experiences
    • Conferences, summits, and convenings 

Final Thoughts

  • Social Impact Reports should ultimately capture a program’s end outcomes. If a program requires planning, infrastructure development, or multiple years of implementation to fully deliver services and generate outcomes then the report period should reflect that. 
  • The budget section captures the total cost of program implementation during the grantee’s report period. If a grantee’s report period does not align with their grant agreement start and end dates, their program budget might be larger than you are expecting.