The Right Annual Report for Your Audience- Part Two

The Right Annual Report for Your Audience – Part Two

So, you know you need an annual report, right? Now that you have read Part One of our post about planning your nonprofit report asked a half a dozen questions helpful for determining the “whys” of your project. Now explore some options on how to execute this project in a way that suits both your purpose and resources. Match the type of project to your needs.


Digital Annual Reports

Content is, of course, the driving factor for this project. Collect the information, visuals, statistics, and financials from which you will glean the details you wish to share. As with any multi-faceted project, make an outline and lists of content to be sure you have accounted for all of the key data, ideas, and facts to be included. Also define the “new” content you may wish to collect—testimonial quotes, creative background for your theme (such as stock art/photos, inspirational quotes, etc.)


Some more obvious and some creative approaches provide options that may involve only information and resources you already have at hand.


Email Annual Report  Using a newsletter template in your current e-mail program templates may provide a convenient platform in which to design and send a simple report.


Email Annual Report with Printable Document 

If your platform permits saving as a PDF in order to provide a printed report, that’s a great first step.


Printable and Digital Report 

This document, of course, can be as “fancy” or simple as you wish. A letter from your ED or board chair is a simple option. A document that is text-driven is simply produced, however, photos embedded in such a document can speak volumes. Images and call-outs can make even the simplest report more dynamic. A well-designed printable piece can be sent as an email attachment to your closest contacts, may be embedded in your web site, and may be also printed and sent in the postal mail as needed.


Short Report and Long Report   A small summary publication—which may be as simple as a postcard or letter—may direct your friends and fans to other more detailed resources. Providing a QR code or link to social media, your web site, or even a phone number through which to request a printed report is an easy way to bring attention to the opportunity to learn more. An incentive can also be devised to draw your patrons to your site or point of contact.


Webpage Report   The content of your report can simply become part of your website. Creating an interactive section for your report provides an evergreen spot where site visitors may read and engage. Sidebars of content may feature those “need to read” items you wish to highlight, such as profiles of donors and volunteers, important statistics, the popular pie chart, and more.


Printed Report  A printed report may be as simple as a brochure or as complex as a magazine. You may find the annual report can be an insert into a project you already produce—a quarterly magazine, a newsletter, a program book for an event.


Whichever project path you chose is defined by your budget, staffing, and time. And, if your project is a new venture, review the purpose and the options for executing the project. If you need assistance to make it happen, consider these resources:

  1. Board resources – do you have a board member whose business can provide writing, design or production support?
  2. Creative resources – do you have connections for a local college or art school to provide design, illustration or photography services? Is there a communications program through which writing and copy development could provide a study project.
  3. Staff assignment – discern if the project may be a team effort. Can each relevant staff member provide pieces of the report? Financials from the business manager? Funding details from the development manager who should have information at hand? Additional writing and editing—and perhaps project management—from the communications manager? The ED may be the best project leader—and the most familiar with all aspects of the organization. If you have hands-on board members, some of those professionals may be capable annual report team members.

Consider how your annual report can be your snapshot of the year part. Set realistic deadline, create a timetable, and….go!


Links to Annual Report Resources

Annual Report by App Examples

Annual Report Samples   The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) compiled a handy list of links to samples and information on nonprofit annual reports. As a leader in higher education advancement,CASE has many resources for nonprofit development, communications, and management professionals.

Nonprofit Annual Reports Collection Nonprofit Marketing Guide created this wiki to which nonprofits may contribute annual report examples in addition to free tools available in itssite.

Mission Vision Annual Report  Covering Mission Vision’s work in eye care and eyewear for those in need, this 2011 nonprofit report provides a print and PDF edition, featured here in “turn-the-page” format through the freeIsssuu tool. Writing/design byNew Place Collaborations.

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh Annual Report PDF/online examples   This mid-size arts organization created simple documents that are delivered via e-mail link and are placed on the company’s web site. A small print run provides copies to selected foundations, board members, and top donors with additional reports printed on demand.

Walt Disney “Plain Vanilla” Corporate Annual Report  As Walt Disney Company is busy creating worlds of entertaining memories, the annual report is a comprehensive example of a traditional narrative and financials report.


Yvonne Hudson, principal of New Place Collaborations in Pittsburgh, loves creating mission-driven solutions for nonprofit clients. She enjoys the challenge capturing one year in words and images in an annual report, such the Mission Vision report at the link above.