Creating an Effective Annual Report

Jun 13, 2016

Most people don't realize that your annual report is very effective communication tool AND a great soft sell donation tool.


Often, annual reports are bogged down by too many details and too much information. So what should you take out and what should you keep in?

Firstly, focus on your accomplishments. It's not just about a description of the activities that happened in your facility but what you accomplished from them. Did you start a new program for your residents? Don't simply describe the program; go into detail about the results of this program and how it impacted your residents. You do good work every day and this needs to be showcased.

One of the ways to do this is by telling stories. Highlight a couple of your residents and talk about their journey throughout the year. Have they improved? Participated in programs or on resident council? And don't just highlight the residents; don't forget about your staff too. Focus on a staff member you know has gone above and beyond. Being featured in the annual report is a great way to recognize them. And spin a narrative instead of using 'business' language. Really paint the picture for your reader.

An important part of your annual report is the financial section. It's easy for this to become stale and boring. Liven it up with strong graphics like pie charts to illustrate your numbers. And don't just print the numbers. Include that narrative piece. Explain how much you got in donations and how you spent the money and most important of all, how your residents were affected by these donations. It's crucial for donors to see that their money is well spent.

Which leads me to my next point: say thank you! Don't forget to thank your supporters for all they do for you. This is your chance to really recognize them for their contributions. And take the time to thank your staff and volunteers. You couldn't do it without them and it's important that they are recognized for this.

Lastly, a good annual report has a call to action in it. It doesn't have to be overly complicated. Instead just state that you would like to continue doing your great work and tell the readers of the report how they can help you.

Don't forget to mention the different ways they can support your organization such as monthly giving, planned giving, etc.

And of course, don't make your annual report too long otherwise no one will read it. I know the instinct is to put as much stuff as possible into it but cramming a lot of stuff in will ensure it won't get read. Instead be concise, clear and make sure that every page is reflective of your mission statement and the work you do.

Do you do anything special with your annual report?

Filed under: Executive/Management
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