4 Letter Word For A Group Of Animals Living Together Annual Reports – Five Keys to Creating an Annual Report For Your Nonprofit

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Annual Reports – Five Keys to Creating an Annual Report For Your Nonprofit

At the beginning of my second year as executive director of a housing nonprofit, I thought I was well prepared for my first annual meeting until the day of the event when I realized we hadn’t produced an annual report as required by the bylaws. Since this was thirty years ago, before most nonprofits had computers, you can only imagine the work my secretary and I put into preparing the basic report we needed for that evening. We met the requirements of the bylaws, but we certainly didn’t produce something to showcase our organization.

Fast forward three decades… you have a good computer and printer in your office, an employee who writes well, and the wisdom to give yourself enough time to create an annual report that will serve as a marketing and fundraising tool in the coming year. If you don’t have ample resources at the bank or a marketing firm that will donate their services, you will likely create your own rapport at home. Follow these guidelines to ensure your report ends up being “read and spread” and not in the wastebasket.

1. Define the message you want the report to convey.

You can do this by focusing on a specific program that has had dramatic results this year. You can also focus on your mission and highlight some things you’ve done that clearly resonate with that mission. In addition, you can highlight the people you serve with various programs or the donors who made this year great. Just remember that this message should be consistent throughout the report, from the opening letter from the President of the Board to the closing financial report.

2. Avoid using too many stats.

In the words of Mal Warwick, “If statistics could tell a story, calculators would be visiting talk shows.” Your auditor may be impressed by the numbers, but the readers of your annual report want to know about the people you’ve helped and the changes your nonprofit has made to make the world a better place.

3. Be sure to use plenty of stories

If your orchestra does free concerts for inner-city children, focus on one child and talk about his reaction to the concert. If you provide shelter for rescued animals, talk about the rescue and then the forever home you found for the animal. If your mission is to help drug addicts recover, focus on one or two who have completed your program and show how they became productive members of the community. Use any success stories that align with your mission and you’ll grab the reader’s attention.

4. Include pictures that are dramatic and show the work you do.

Avoid traditional group photos (board members, staff, and a neighborhood group) and use photos that reveal strong feelings. For example, you can show the delight on the face of a child hearing a live concert for the first time, the excitement of a new owner leaving the shelter with a rescued animal, or the joy of an ex-addict playing basketball with a band teenagers. . You can also include pictures of board members and staff; just make sure they are doing something active, like attending a board meeting or working with clients. Candid photos can be great if you can get them. A caveat here: make sure you get signed releases from the people being photographed (or their guardians).

5. Present your financial reports in a readable and interesting way.

Most people who receive your annual report are not interested in your balance sheet or income statement. If you feel you should include these, add a short story highlighting what the numbers really mean for your nonprofit’s management. What most readers care about is how much money you spent on programs versus the cost of administration or fundraising. The clearest way to report this is in a pie chart.

Once you’ve used these ideas to complete an annual report that has the potential to impress your readers, be sure to distribute it widely. Don’t just hand it out at your annual meeting. Mail it to all your donors, partners, customers, and anyone you want interested in the work you do. Also, put it on your website so the whole world can see how you are changing the world.

©2010 Jane B. Ford

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