Why Your Company Needs an Impact Report with Polina Pinchevsky
Updated: May 11
Social impact companies aim to do good in the world, but how will they know if they're making a difference? Enter impact reporting: an impact report can help you understand where you are and what to do next. Just like keeping track of your finances, you need to measure and report the good you create in the world. Measuring what you do and for whom you do it helps you improve your strategy and plan for the future.
Unfortunately, creating an impact report can be difficult, especially for small businesses that lack the time, resources, or expertise to create one. This was the gap that entrepreneur and graphic designer, Polina Pinchevsky, sought to solve alongside her co-founders Alisa Herr and Russ Stoddard. They built Unit of Impact as an impact report platform small businesses can use to track what they do. Unit of Impact helps companies tell their story of the difference they're making in the world.
Polina’s Journey Into Social Impact Businesses
Polina has had a long business career with many twists and turns. Even during her studies, she knew she wanted to be a business owner. Trained as a graphic designer, Polina started RoundPeg, a creative agency that helps social mission organizations amplify their impact. She later discovered B Corp Certification and went through a challenging journey to get her business certified. Round Peg is now B Corp certified since 2012, and it has led to many of her most rewarding experiences and connections.
The pandemic was a unique time for Polina. Their company received financial aid, so she had the time and financial security to step back and think. Polina and her fellow B Corp business owner, Russ, had been looking into new business opportunities together and finally found it. While creating their companies' impact report, they realized that it was challenging — and that other companies likely had the same problems they faced. Business owners struggled with centralizing data, keeping track, and reporting on it. Polina, Russ, and Alisa founded Unit of Impact to provide a solution.
The Importance of Impact Reporting
We live in a world where everything is measured. As Polina said, "We live at this kind of moment in time where I think we've all accepted that in order to improve something and get better at something, you need to measure it." This is also true for a business's social impact. Setting goals and showing how you make a difference is a difficult challenge to overcome without a baseline to measure from.
An impact report can be a strategic tool for your business. It goes beyond your profit bottom line and examines how you operate to get there. There are also many creative ways a business can use an impact report. The report can be a tool that engages stakeholders, paints a full picture of your company, and can even be a vehicle for onboarding and recruitment.
Keeping Up With Data Collection
Many small businesses need help with data collection. Small business owners juggle different roles and constantly pitch in for what's needed. The task becomes difficult to centralize and systemize. However, no matter the difficulty, you need to maintain your data collection proactively.
Don't wait until the very end to start being proactive. Do your data collection consistently. Unit of Impact keeps the collection process simple and smooth. It uses plain language and simple questions to establish a baseline across four areas: people, community, environment, and governance. You can go even further when you stay consistent and build on your baseline.
“If you can keep track of month over month, or quarter over quarter, however, you want to do your data entry, just keeping the baseline steady and maintain it and build on it, you are going to be so far ahead of many, many, many thousands of small businesses out there.”
How Unit of Impact Makes Impact Reports Easy
Using Unit of Impact's tool to create an impact report is significantly more straightforward than creating one from scratch and raw data. Just log in, enter your information, and start where you want. The best way to use the tool is to lean into your business's strengths and build on them. These are the areas where you have a story to tell. Go through each area and add what you can. If you don't have something, you can skip it!
The tool follows the framework of the B Corps impact assessment. Most B Corp owners only start tracking their impact during the year of their recertification. Many small businesses lack the resources to collect data annually. Fortunately, the Unit of Impact helps them stay consistent each year, even without the pressure of recertification. The tool is also a useful stepping stone for aspiring business owners looking into certification.
“Small businesses just didn't have the resources to really go there. And we're hoping to change that with Unit of Impact, and really give small businesses an easy way to create impact reports that could do so much for the company without it being a heavy lift or heavy investment.”
Different Aspects of Unit of Impact
How can you create a good impact report? Unit of Impact has multiple features that make it easy for business owners.
Unit of Impact taps into available databases to help you understand your operations and impact.
Four Impact Areas
Unit of Impact's tool has four impact areas that you can use to measure your impact, such as on the environment and your organization's governance. These impact areas have intentional similarities to B Corp agendas to help companies aiming for certification.
Impact Report Design
Many other reports are dry. They're not something you'd share or use for marketing. However, design is a significant aspect of an impact report. Unit of Impact offers pre-designed templates that can make your report into a visual story of your company.
Eight Steps to Creating Your Impact Report
“In looking at many, many, many impact reports, there are certain things that are essential to have. when I tell you some of these things you will laugh because you'll say ‘Isn't that obvious?’ But guess what? It's not obvious. “
The Basics One of the common mistakes in creating an impact report is forgetting the basics. Make sure to mention what your company does, your products and services, brand foundations, and more.
Force For Good What does your business do? How is it a force for good?
Letter to the Stakeholders A letter that takes a look at where your business has been and where it’s going.
Quick Impact Visual Capture Captures important data of what you've done in the past year, whether it's partnerships, donations, projects, or more.
Your Storytelling Build your impact story. Highlight a partner, community, or project your business did that can make the impact more personal. Keep your storytelling short and focused with only 2 to 3 short stories per category.
Certifications Include any certifications you have, such as a B Corp Certification, if any.
Testimonials Use testimonials about your impact on customers, partners, employees, or others.
Engagement Invite the reader to engage with you and your business. This is an excellent place to draw people in.
Focusing Your Impact
Aligning your business' impact with sustainable development goals (SDGs) is a quick and easy way to tell your story. SDGs are simple, to the point and easy to understand. SDGs can help show your stakeholders the impact you're trying to create.
When you’re a business owner wanting to create impact, focus on a few areas rather than attempting to contribute to all SDGs. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself spread too thin and not creating any impact at all. As Polina advised, “The number one tip, when you do your impact reporting, or when you're trying to plan and create a strategic plan for the year, are don't try to do everything and don't tell us everything. Focus is everything.”
However, it's best to take your time. Don't rush. Polina's number also reminds us that “You don't get there on day one or year one or year two. It takes a while to get that focus.”
The Future for Unit of Impact
Unit of Impact launched last September 2022 and is still in its minimum viable product stages. They still need more resources, and there's still much work to be done. Their number 1 goal is to “build the tool to be more robust, have more options to support small businesses in more ways.” Polina and her team are doing that by co-building the Unit of Impact tool with the small businesses using it.
Right now, they want to expand their focus to include CPG companies. If you’re a CPG company interested in measuring your impact, join them in making Unit of Impact a better tool for more businesses.
Learn More About Polina and Unit of Impact
Polina Pinchevsky is the CEO and co-founder of Unit of Impact, the first impact report solution designed for small businesses. This platform aims to help busy small social impact business owners efficiently collect and organize their impact data into a professional and compelling social impact report. It provides a simple way for businesses to manage their data and measure their impact to show they're making a difference each year.
Polina has been a social entrepreneur for decades and a trained graphic designer with a degree in Fine Arts. She is also the co-founder and creative director for the B Corp, Round Peg, a design and marketing consultancy focused on helping social enterprises. Polina has always supported the causes she believes in and the communities she is a part of. She is a proud founding member of the B Local Mid-Atlantic group and a B Corp ambassador.
You can connect with Polina on LinkedIn and learn more about Unit of Impact and RoundPeg on their websites.
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