Annual Reports

It’s that time of year again. Many Not for Profits are either thinking about doing their annual report, panicking about having not started their annual report or currently wading through back data and reports and writing their annual report.

My recommendation is to stop viewing your annual report as an onerous requirement that has to be completed when you have no time to do it, and start considering it as a marketing document. Having a professional looking annual report that shows what you have accomplished in the last year and allows readers to understand what drives you as an organisation, is a very useful communication tool indeed. Yes, they can be time consuming, but frankly doesn’t anything that is worthwhile take up some time?

There are some good guides available to help you with your annual report. Check out key2creative’s blog for some great ideas. My top tips for approaching your annual report are:

  1. Think of 3 main messages you want your annual report to convey. It is easy to get caught up in tying to cover EVERYTHING that happened in the last year. We get it – you’ve been busy. But let’s face it, who outside your own organisation is likely to read every single word of your annual report? Most people skim through, looking for areas of interest and getting a ‘feel’ for your organisation or the year that you have had. So you need to make sure your main messages are clear, obvious and powerful.
  2. Get professional help to write it. Well – I would say that as I write annual reports! But seriously, the biggest mistake you can make is getting a whole lot of people to provide paragraphs or sections from their own areas of expertise and then cobbling those together to make one report. Annual reports need to have one voice, and that voice and tone needs to match with the rest of your marketing material. If you have room in your budget to pay for professional help then use it.
  3. Use a graphic designer. We’ve all looked at a lot of annual reports and it is easy to pick those that look professional and those that don’t. And don’t automatically think that it will cost an arm and a leg for a designer – there are several around that enjoy working with Not for Profits and have reasonable rates. Get at least 3 quotes and make sure they understand your budget, so they can plan accordingly.