Try this on for size…
Fate would have it that in the very same month Brad Shear started as executive director at the Potter League for Animals in June of 2017, he stumbled upon one of Kivi’s workshops about short annual reports at the Association of Animal Welfare Administrators Conference. “Our fiscal year ends on July 31st so the timing was perfect to try something new,” he said. “In previous years the organization had printed reports that were in the range of 20 pages, tended to be text-heavy, and including several pages of donor lists.”
Can’t Wait to See How This Story Turns Out?
Here’s a short video of Brad showing Kivi the finished product when they met again this summer, two years later (volume warning: Kivi squeals with delight):
Putting the Idea into Action
Back in 2017, Brad took the idea to Kara Montalbano, director of marketing and community relations, who was excited about the idea. “When Brad approached me about doing a very scaled-down version of our previous annual report, I was 100 percent on board. Knowing that you have seconds to engage your audience to get them to buy into what we are offering made the decision to do something interactive a win-win,” she said. “In the past, I struggled with keeping 20 pages fresh and engaging, especially with pages and pages of donor names, et cetera.”
Kara had worked with a product called a “Z-card” for another organization so they decided to give pocket-sized annual reports a try. Kara said, “The design itself tends to come about organically…Then I focus on staying consistent with our branding strategy [color, concept, typography, etc.].”
Like most new undertakings in the office, this change didn’t come without doubts.
“Some staff were nervous about leaving out the donor lists that had historically always been included,” Brad explained. “I asked some of our board members if they cared about having their names listed as donors and no one did.” They decided to ditch the donor lists and long stories.
The Potter League for Animals incorporated Nonprofit Marketing Guide advice on the Five Features Every Nonprofit Annual Report Should Include.
· Accomplishments as Opposed to Activities
· The Financials (Explained in Plain English)
· Making Your Supporters the Hero
· A Call to Action
The only suggestion skipped from this list was “Stories from the Real People You Serve.”
They made this idea their own with intentional conversations.
“We wanted to focus on the key metrics that not only demonstrate we’re making an impact, but also tell a story about the depth and breadth of our services to the community,” Brad offered. “We made sure to mix information about our well-known legacy programs with some information about lesser-known, but important, programs we thought would surprise some people.”
The response to their pocket-sized report has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Several board members carry them in their cars and purses. We work with them on how to use the reports as tools to bring new supporters to the organization,” said Brad. “The feedback from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive. They love the design; they love the feeling that it is innovative and like that we are saving paper.”
Both Brad and Kara doubt they will go back to those cumbersome 20-page reports. This new model saves time, money, paper, and it’s something supporters can share easily.
Ask yourself, “When was the last time your board member carried around your annual report?”
For more, see Nonprofit Annual Report Best Practices, Example, and Templates.