Publishing an annual report is a nonprofit best practice. And before you start creating your annual report, you need to make these three decisions:
1. What are your accomplishments for the year?
What were the results of your work last year? Why did you spend your time and money the way you did? What differences did it make? Try to put your list of accomplishments in order of priority — what were the top three?
2. What do you want supporters to remember about this year?
If you had to summarize your year in just a sentence or two, what would you say? What’s the “take home” message that you want your supporters to remember after reading your report? This is not the same thing as your list of accomplishments, but a way to frame them.
3. What format will the report take?
Think about how this annual report will fit into your current communications and fundraising plan. For example, if you typically send a lot of direct mail to your donors, you may want the report to include a printed version, perhaps supplemented with an online PDF, video or infographic. If you communicate primarily online, you may want to skip the print version, or do something very short like a postcard.
We always recommend going “short” no matter what format it takes. Check out some examples of shorter annual reports including infographics, 2-4 page reports, and videos for inspiration.
Even if you stick with a long annual report, consider pulling out the most compelling parts of your report and creating a companion infographic or video. Graphs, photos or other visuals created for the report can be used for social media updates. Testimonials from clients make great newsletter articles. And behind-the-scenes stories from staff or volunteers can be published on your blog.
For more, see Nonprofit Annual Report Best Practices, Example, and Templates.