The importance of a great annual report

Alan Jennings

A critical marketing tool

If you are a not-for-profit organisation, government agency or commercial enterprise the importance of producing a great Annual Report is the same.

An Annual Report is all encompassing and is an important communications tool that allows you to:

  • Showcase what you’ve accomplished.
  • Highlight the contribution and the effect of achievements on all people involved (both within and external to your organisation).
  • Reassure existing donors or investors.
  • Attract new supporters or stakeholders.

An Annual Report is a significant summary of what you do.

Mission and vision

We want to be inspired by the mission of your organisation and have this linked back to your achievements.  We need to understand quickly and simply why you did what you did and the difference you made.  Recap your mission, vision and values and allow your achievements to shine.

One of the best ways to get your message across is through vision.  When gleaning through an Annual Report a relevant, well captioned, photograph helps depict an outcome and reaffirms achievements.  Infographics work well, too, as do pullout quotes and eye-catching headings.

Annual Reports are often lengthy so it’s good to preface each section with a summary paragraph recapping strategy and outlining results.  And keep language simple.

Donations

Raising money for not-for-profit organisations is mandatory but it’s the outcome of what you did with that money that’s important.

  • Did you achieve your objectives for the year?
  • Have short-term results enabled longer term goals?
  • Always ensure you leave a call to action for interested supporters.
  • Encourage others to donate and be part of the wonderful work that’s being achieved.

Attention to detail

Proof reading is vital.  As well as ensuring all figures in the financials add up, spelling the names of staff, donors or organisations correctly (and in full) is important.

Planning

Measuring the success of your Annual Report will depend on critical planning.

  • Set your timeframe early and make each milestone count.
  • Prepare a list of inclusions based on the previous year’s report.
  • If there is existing text you can reutilise then do so.
  • Work up a list of outcomes and nominate a staff member to obtain images to support these for possible inclusion within the report.
  • Make sure images selected are at least 300dpi for print reproduction.

Online

Ensure you provide an easy-to-navigate, accessible HTML Annual Report that is easy to read.  Financial sections are often the most sought after so ensure they are well formatted.  Reports are scanned quickly – often less than a few minutes at a time – so make sure your report has impact and relevance and can be viewed across a number of platforms such as tablets and mobiles.

Get started today

Whether you choose to print or to showcase your achievements online, start planning your next annual report today to get the most from this great marketing opportunity.

Posted in Not-for-profit