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Status reports with CLASS

publication date: Aug 9, 2013
author/source: Bill Kennedy

Whether you’re reporting to the Executive Director, the Board or a funder, status reports are critical. They show that:

  • You are in control of the situation, despite any setbacks;
  • You are organized;
  • You are accountable for the resources used; and
  • You can be trusted to continue.

Take this example from the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s web site:Ontario Nonprofit Network


The icons tell you the status of the projects, with green meaning go and red meaning stopped. In addition, while there is a lot of information on the page, it is well organized with lots of white space.

Look ahead

Even though it reports on the past, there is a column devoted to next steps. This isn’t a historic document. It invites discussion and engagement.

Action oriented

The report talks about actions, not roadblocks or plans. Even when progress has stopped, the report tells you what the new plans are. The reader can quickly see how these actions dovetail with the organization’s “Themes,” presumably set by the Board. By tying progress back to the overall mandate of the organization, the reader can assess the urgency and importance of devoting more resources to any stopped or blocked projects.


This report can be read in a couple of seconds. You can run your eye down the headings and status icons to get a quick progress assessment. Because it is scannable, the full report is more likely to be read.

Simple language

No jargon. No TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms – a major communication hurdle for charities and public sector organizations). It can be read equally well by the new Board member and the seasoned veteran.

So the next time you are asked to report on progress, just remember CLASS

  • Colourful
  • Look ahead
  • Action-oriented
  • Scannable
  • Simple language.

Special thanks to the Ontario Nonprofit Network for publishing such a perfect example.

Bill Kennedy is a Toronto based Chartered Accountant with Energized Accounting, focusing on financial and reporting systems in the charitable sector. Contact him by email, @Energized or through

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