Your NFP Annual Report – telling your story

Alan Jennings

Let’s start with a different approach this year – let’s be radical and ditch historical annual reporting. In its place let’s make an impact and produce an amazing summary of the results your supporters made possible.

Real people telling your story

Follow this up with informal interviews and let clients tell you in their words their experience of your organisation, how you make a difference and how they value the work you are doing.  Don’t try and make the story too fluffy otherwise the message can be lost! It’s important to be authentic and include ‘real people’ telling ‘real stories’ about how their life has been touched by your work. Storytelling is a great motivator that can do wonders for your organisation’s credibility.

Repeat the exercise with your volunteers and/or donors. Ask them why they got involved with your NFP and what motivates them to continue to support you.  A volunteer’s experience or perspective can inspire others to join your cause.  It’s so important to acknowledge the people who help you to achieve your mission and to reassure them that they are helping you to make a difference.

Further personalise your stories by including engaging photos that will gain a place in the hearts and minds of your audience. Photos are powerful motivators so aim for a close-up shot that captures that person and their personality. Don’t forget to include a caption that identifies the person and also highlights the accomplishment.

And to ensure consistency, please ask the executive team to prepare their summaries as if they were delivering a personal message.

Speak with one voice

Content is usually sourced from different people within the same organization, so build in some extra time for the text to be edited by one person, to ensure that the report speaks to the reader with the same voice throughout. The end result should be like reading a novel with a natural flow leading you through from start to finish. Imagine your audience and talk to them as though they are sitting there with you.

Support your stories with infographics

Where possible, weave infographics throughout your stories to highlight the difference your organisation is making to the lives of those you engage with as part of your current strategy, as well to the longer-term strategy of the organisation. Enable your supporters to understand the big picture that you envision.

Include links to your website

The reader may wish to know more, so remember to include ‘links’ within your content, to pages on your website, where further information can be located. The website will also give readers another opportunity to connect with your organization and find out more about you.

Call to action

Now that you’ve inspired your donors, volunteers and supporters, let them know how they can continue to be involved and the different ways they can support your organisation.

  • Let people know how they can donate
  • List the types of donations you can accept
  • Be informative about ways people can help you, such as volunteer opportunities

Your annual report is a great communication tool. Ensure it does justice to the work you do.

Need a How-T​o Guide?

Download the free Annual Report Guide for Not-For-Profit organisations, covering all the essentials of NFP annual reporting – why you should invest in your report and how to tell your story in a more engaging way through storytelling and infographics. There are helpful ‘checklists’ to guide you through the process and a review of the ‘new’ options available for presenting your information. These options illustrate how you can utilise the capabilities of the internet for your growing online audience.

If you’re looking for guidance on the more traditional printed report, then you’ll find plenty of advice on that too.

Download your free copy of the Annual Report Guide for Not-For-Profit organisations today …

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