I have been preaching alternative annual report formats for quite a while now, but I know a lot of you are still either too nervous to make a change or can’t get approval from above.

If you are in that situation, you should try a 4-page annual report first before moving to infographics, postcards or video.  A 4-page report still gives you the basic layout of a longer report, but isn’t as scary sounding as “infographic” or “video” might be.

Still need convincing? Here is a story we received from Theresa Casey of Kids Hope USA after she attended our annual report webinar at CharityHowTo:

Good Afternoon! My name is Theresa Casey and I work for Kids Hope USA, a national nonprofit headquartered in Zeeland, Michigan. I’m new to the organization and one of my first large projects was to create our organization’s annual report. 

My boss and I listened to your webinar on Annual Reports. I then created our annual report while keeping in mind all of your suggestions and guidelines.

Everyone in the office loved it – and I just received a forwarded email from a donor who received the report.

“Thanks for your note and for the Kids Hope Annual Report. I thought the annual report was very well done. Its nice to get one that gives you all the information, but reports it concisely enough that it invites you to read it right away, rather than set it aside to read and perhaps never do so! And your information looks very good; I think you should be very happy with the progress you’ve made.”

– A Devoted Donor

So, I wanted to THANK YOU so very much for your advice, and share with you what our Annual Report looked like. We feel we have succeeded in our goal with the report and couldn’t have paid someone for a better compliment. 🙂

Here is the report:


The size of the printed version was 5.75 x 8.75 so it could fit into a 6×9 envelope. Theresa went on to say:

We wanted it to be something we could use… an easy way to thank donors in-between asks and make it clear to them that they are the ones that make the work of Kids Hope USA possible.

I sent one of the reports to a donor with a hand written note as a thank you, no ask included, and received a second donation from them online a few days later! This is the first time they have done this in their giving history!

As all of you should do, Theresa wanted to ensure that it read like their partners and volunteers were telling the story, not their organization.

Theresa also mentioned how they had to get over what is referred to as the “curse of knowledge” (talking to people outside of your organization as if they were also privy to every aspect of your organization and what goes on inside). She said it took several revisions and many deleted words, sentences and paragraphs to get it down to the size they wanted.

She ultimately relied on choosing what she believed donors would want to know.

The entire process of research, creation, printing, and sending them out took about a month and a half.

You know you have a hit on your hands when your staff AND your donors love it!

What about you? Share your annual reports with us!

Published On: June 25, 2014|Categories: Fundraising|