Thinking about your nonprofit’s next annual report? Annual reports were the first topic we developed training on here at Nonprofit Marketing Guide way back in 2008. So we have lots of great best practices, examples, and templates to share with you as your plan, write, design, and publish yours. We even have an online course on short annual reports.
Let’s get into it!
Planning Your Nonprofit Annual Report
First of all, if creating your nonprofit’s annual report is a dreaded chore, take heart and read this case study: How I Came to Love My Nonprofit’s Annual Report — and How You Can Love Yours Too! We know from our research that you either love it or hate it!
Before you get too far, you need to answer these three questions before getting started:
- What are your accomplishments for the year?
- What do you want supporters to remember about this year?
- What format will the report take?
We recommend these seven planning steps for a short annual report.
You’ll also want to think about how you’ll measure the success of your report.
Nonprofit Annual Report Content
We believe there are five features that every nonprofit annual report should include:
- Accomplishments as opposed to activities
- Stories from real people you serve
- The financials explained in plain language
- Ample thanks to your supporters
- A call to action
What about the Donor List?
You may be wondering about the donor list. Welp, we think the annual report donor list is a stupid waste of time.
If you are going to do it, at least stop using Mr. and Mrs. in your annual report donor lists. Here’s why continuing to use Mr. and Mrs. is a terrible idea.
What about the Letter from the Executive Director?
You can probably drop it, but here’s what to do if you need to keep it.
Nonprofit Annual Report Design
We always recommend a short annual report compared to the 30-50 page behemoths. And plenty of nonprofits ditched print entirely and went digital a long time ago, so that is also a potential option.
Here are several stories behind the creation of short nonprofit annual reports:
- A Pocket-Sized Annual Report
- Postcard Annual Report — Great Example of How It Can Work
- Grantmakers Love Annual Report Postcards Too
- Another Postcard Annual Report Success Story
- Creating a Two-Page Nonprofit Annual Report
- Another 4-Page Annual Report Success Story
We also love nonprofit annual reports as infographics. Here’s an example of a nonprofit infographic annual report that I still use in some training.
Here are even more examples for you:
How This Nonprofit Created a Game-Changing Annual Report Infographic
Nonprofit Annual Report in an Infographic (Real World Example)
You can also take a look at how two different presidential foundations approached their annual reports.
More Nonprofit Annual Report Examples
We have an informal collection of short nonprofit annual reports on Dropbox organized into several categories:
- 1-2 Pages
- 3-4 Pages
- Odd Sized or Postcards
Access our library of nonprofit annual reports here. Want us to add yours? Just email it to us with Annual Report Example in the subject line
We also have lots of nonprofit video annual reports saved on our YouTube playlists. Just look for the lists that start with AR. (If you are curious the playlists that start with TY are thank you videos.)
We hope this gets you headed in the right direction!
Need an Annual Report Template?
Fill out the form below to get Suggested Layouts for a 4-Page Annual Report.
Suggested Layouts for a 4-Page Annual Report
Create a shorter annual report people will actually read using the layouts in this free download. By downloading this resource, you also consent to receive our weekly newsletter filled with marketing tips, insights, and more for nonprofit communicators.