Do We Need a Theme?

Many nonprofits organize their annual reports to reflect the set up of the organization. If three different programs were implemented last year, your annual report would need to include three sections describing those programs. Though that is one of the easiest ways to structure an annual report, it's not one of the most compelling methods of telling your story.

Developing a theme for the year is a better way to organize an annual report. The theme must flow throughout the document and it can also appear as the title on the report's cover.

Ideas for Nonprofit Themes

Here are three themes that any nonprofit could adapt for its annual report:

Results that Speak for Themselves. Having people who greatly benefit from your work talk about your accomplishments is much more effective than speaking about your accomplishments directly. The inclusion of personal profiles or anecdotes is a great way of showcasing how your accomplishments are improving lives.

Step by Step. Showing annual progress is important even if the goals of your organization will take years to actualize. You want to showcase how all of your achievements, even small ones, are stepping stones along the path to something greater. Using text and graphics are an excellent way to highlight achievements, no matter how small.

Reaping What We Sow. A creative approach is to use a garden analogy to describe your accomplishments, from planting seeds (the origin of projects), to pulling weeds (overcoming obstacles), to harvesting the fruits of your labor (enjoying your achievements).