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How to Create an Engaging Annual Report

Your annual report doesn’t have to be a snoozefest.

You’re a nonprofit with an exciting mission to impact change, not an accounting firm (no offense to accountants). While sharing data and numbers may be an important part of your annual report, it’s equally important to talk about the people behind your campaigns and projects on both sides—those helping and those being helped. That’s what is going to capture hearts and inspire loyalty.

Here are five ways to create an engaging annual report—communicating everything you need to in a creative and compelling way.

be purposeful1. Be purposeful.

Encourage your audience to support your cause by showing that their donations matter. Be transparent, even if you had a rough year—but at the heart of your message, offer hope and a vision.

be complete2. Be complete.

Your audience expects to see certain information in your report: mission statement; financial statement; successes and challenges; gratitude; and a call to action. Take a look at our annual reports checklist for some help gathering it all up.

be concise3. Be concise.

Sure, you’ll want to use your annual report to inform and persuade, but don’t let it get long and cumbersome. Pro tip: Initially write all your thoughts, ideas and information, then edit and cut a few days later with fresh eyes.

be visual4. Be visual.

Inspire and engage by including photos of people you’ve helped, volunteers committed to your cause, infographics that communicate data in an interesting way and fun graphics that can help break up blocks of text.

be accomodating5. Be accommodating.

Is your audience traditional? Print your annual report in a 4- or 6-page format. Communicating with a more tech-savvy audience? Take the digital route with a video, infographic or microsite. Want to be inclusive? Do both!

One more thing: Be honest.

Do you want to take this project on yourself, or would it alleviate stress to get some help? At Firespring, we can design, print and mail your organization’s annual report—all of that and then some, because we can do the digital part too.

Take a look at our checklist to start thinking about what you need to create an engaging annual report.


Download your checklist