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What’s It Like to Publish Your First Impact Report?

A watercolor illustration of a person sprinting. Colorful lines are flowing from their back.

“I’d love to publish an impact report, but I just don’t have the time!”

We hear that frequently from impact creators of all stripes — B Corps, benefit corporations, and mission-driven companies — and it’s why we created Unit of Impact: to give small businesses a tool to make it easy and affordable to publish an impact report.

In this month’s blog, we interviewed three social impact leaders who just published their company’s “first” impact reports 🥳 👏💪 using our platform: Michelle Hirons of HigherRing, Jennifer Piette of Narrative Food, and Kim Allchurch-Flick of Mighty Epiphyte

(Okay, so Kim has produced impact reports in the past (PowerPoints, PDFs), but this is her first time using a platform designed especially with a template for benefit corporations to report their benefit.)

Before we get to the interview, let’s learn a little bit about these three small companies who are creating impact daily and now inspiring others with the results they share in their impact reports. 

HigherRing is a women-owned, certified B Corp and California Benefit Corporation that operates through a distributed workforce of full-time professionals. It specializes in U.S.-based operational support services for mission-driven companies. 

Narrative Food is a woman-owned, certified B Corp that recently relocated to an idyllic patch of island in the state of Maine. It offers curated corporate gift boxes and subscription boxes featuring small-batch foods from small-scale makers. 

Mighty Epiphyte

Mighty Epiphyte is a certified B Corp and Oregon Benefit Corporation based in Portland, Oregon. It helps businesses navigate B Corp certification and provides impact consulting for companies aspiring to do good.

Okay, so game on, it’s time for impact – let’s get on with the interview!

What historically was the biggest obstacle to producing an impact report for you?

Jennifer: Not knowing where to even begin, or what it should look like, or how to use it. 

Michelle: We have never produced an impact report before.  California Benefit Corp laws let us lean on the B Corp assessment, but we still wanted one to communicate better with our shareholders and surface our impact.

Kim: Finding time to transition data collected for a year into a format to present publicly.

What about Unit of Impact made the process less challenging? 

Michelle: I love that there’s a framework to upload data, surface it in a well-laid out way and have it to easily build on for next year.

Kim: The ability to put the data and the graphic assets in one place is fabulous and so helpful. The formatting of the Benefit Report is a beautiful flow, it allows for creativity while being a dependable template. 

Jennifer: It walked me through the steps. Taking the first step is tough if you don’t have any idea where you are going, so it was super helpful to have a guide walking me through it, formatting it, and advising on what to include.

What was your primary motivation for producing an impact report?

Jennifer: I wanted to track my progress year-on-year and share our highlights with our investors on Wefunder. 

Michelle:  To surface our impact to shareholders, clients, and possibly investors.

Kim:  Because I am a B Corp and Impacts Consultant helping others measure, improve, report and market their products, services, and impacts, I need to know how to do it and there’s no better way than by being in the weeds with my own report. 

What role, if any, did being a benefit corporation play in publishing your impact report?

Kim: I was doing benefit reports prior to being certified; however, becoming certified is interesting as both the Benefit Corporations for Good and B Lab assessments are very informative. I use them as a guide for impacts potential, a guide for documentation, and a guide for how SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) can be chosen as a focus.

Michelle: We’ve worked around the requirement to have an impact report by leaning on our B Corp assessment each year, but we know this is a better solution for the Benefit Corporation requirements.

How was the overall experience using the Unit of Impact platform?

Kim: Overall, it has been enjoyable. And relatively easy after a little learning curve. I see the potential.

Michelle: Great! Time consuming of course for the first one, but I’m excited that for next year, we should be able to build upon our work this year in an organized way.  I loved being able to enter our data and watch it populate in a way that took the heavy lifting of display off our shoulders.  

Jennifer: It was particularly helpful that I was able to send feedback and see it implemented.  For example, the “guide” of how to approach things and the sheet for uploading suppliers.

Which features on Unit of Impact did you find most valuable?

Jennifer: The structure / design. 

Michelle: The framework to easily surface the important information from uploaded data, the vanity URL.

Kim: The tracking of non-profit volunteer hours and donations

Now that it’s published, how are you using your impact report?

Jennifer: I’ve posted it on Instagram and sent it to my investors on Wefunder.  Looking for more ideas!

Kim: I’ve put it on social media, and as soon as my website is rebuilt, it will go on the website and into a blog.

Michelle: We posted it on the website, we sent it in an email to clients and potential clients, sent it to shareholders and posted it on social media!

What has the response been to your impact report since you published it – and from whom?

Michelle: Two clients shared their thoughts with us, and I have noticed that some of our prospects have come out of the woodwork!

Kim:  There were some comments on LinkedIn when I published it!  I’m learning that it is probably a good link to add to an email signature as well. I think I’ll do that!

Any big plans or changes for your impact reporting next year?

Michelle: Our team is starting to compile items to focus on for next year, but we are excited about further advances in the platform and the framework that should make it a much simpler process for next year!

Kim: I am working toward intentionally looking at all potential impacts through an equity-centered lens; as a practice, it’s ever evolving as a way to consider what an impact means and to whom and how. I will be consistent with many impacts, yet I am always looking for new opportunities to engage with collaboration, particularly in the chosen SDGs.

Editor’s Note: Kim ended her interview with an unsolicited comment – benefit corporations keep your ears open to this one: “I help other companies with their reports and read quite a few. I’ve seen white papers, PowerPoints, videos, all style of creativity in benefit reporting.  Yet there’s not been a template or a standard for benefit reporting.  This is important to think about, and it’s a niche.  I’m glad Unit of Impact is there for creating some standardization, while also allowing for creativity. Thank you.”

Inspired by these companies and their first-time impact reports? Then what’s keeping you? Sign up for a free 21-day trial today!

And be sure to check out the impact reports from HigherRing, Narrative Food, and Mighty Epiphyte.