Delivering an Annual Report used to be straightforward: you created a printed document that could be mailed to stakeholders and supporters, and possibly had an accompanying PDF document that could be downloaded from your website.
Today, there’s so much more to consider
- the many more formats available to you;
- the possibility of using your annual report to reach new audiences;
- the environmental impact of delivering the annual report;
- how you make your annual report accessible comply with the Disabilities Discrimination Act;
- and, of course, the financial costs.
A wise investment
If you print your annual report because that’s what you’ve always done you may be surprised at the benefits of a investing in a different approach.
- a compelling annual report could help you to increase donations and volunteer support;
- supporters could be excited to see you moving in an digital direction that is more environmentally friendly;
- “digital” annual reports can be discoverable via Google, and shareable via social media, so could broaden your reach.
What format to choose?
Here’s a quick overview of some of the options available to you.
1. The traditional print + PDF
Printing has an environmental as well as a financial cost – not just paper and ink but also high energy consumption in both the printing process and the delivery. Providing a downloadable “traditional” PDF can reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your printing costs. Unfortunately, the typical PDF document is often near impossible for people disabilities, using assistive technologies, to read.
2. Accessible PDF documents
With a little care and understanding the accessibility of almost any PDF can be improved, allowing people with disabilities, including the blind, to make sense of your document.
3. Online Annual Reports
Increasingly, organisations are delivering their annual reports in the form of mini-websites. Websites are created using HTML, probably the most accessible format available today. And, of course, we all have a web browser, whether at the computer at home, or in our pocket on our phones, so online annual reports have the broadest reach by far.
With ebook sales are predicted to overtake sales of printed books in 2014, ebook readers are becoming as ubiquitous as PDF readers. If you care about delivering your annual report in a format your supporters are consuming, then providing a downloadable Kindle or EPUB version would be a worthwhile investment. These formats are based on standard HTML, so if you’ve already opted for an online annual report, converting this to ebook formats should be relatively inexpensive.
From animation to talking heads, video is always going to the one of the easiest formats to consume. Text captions can be provided for the deaf or hard of hearing, while those with visual and other disabilities can be catered for if the video is embedded into an HTML5 web page. Short annual report summaries usually work best, and can be incorporated into websites, online annual reports, and even interactive PDFs.
6. Interactive PDFs
PDF documents don’t have to be dull and dry. They can be spiced up with interactive content such as video and animation. You should be aware of some pitfalls in this approach though. The file size of your PDF is going to be considerable, making downloading a chore. And, with the broad range of PDF viewing technologies available, there are no guarantees the fancy bits will be usable for everyone.
7. Fancy flipbooks
While delivering your annual report in a format that can be read by the widest possible audience should be a priority, lots of organisations love to see their documents in the form of fancy ‘flipbooks’. If you’re a fan of page turning sound effects and other gimmicks, you should be aware that these are probably the least accessible format for those with disabilities, and are often unusable on mobile devices.
Infographics are a data visualisation aid: visual graphics that present your data in a way that makes it easier to interpret. Stylish infographics can give your supporters something they are proud to share with their friends and followers on Facebook, Pinterest, twitter and other social media platforms. Like video, you’re not going to deliver your entire annual report as an infographic, but they can be a very useful add-on.
As with the content of you annual report, planning is key. Try to think strategically about of the delivery of your annual report: what do you need to produce for stakeholder, how you can best impress potential supporters, and how can you leverage the goodwill of existing supporters to spread your message for you.
Getting an idea of what your audience might prefer is a good place to start – a quick survey could tell you the devices they use for reading and for web browsing. Take the opportunity to find out the online social networks their involved in. Use SurveyMonkey to generate a online survey, free for up to ten questions.
You’ll probably find a blended approach is most effective: a short printed summary with highlights can be supported with detailed and accessible information available online, along with something shareable via social media like a video or infographic.
Need a How-To 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 …