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Make Your Annual Report Work for You

Karyn A. Nunn

March 29, 2021

Once a year, you tell the world your story in long form, and provide context on your strategy. Make the most of your annual report by answering these four important questions:

1. Who are you? Be loud and proud about your mission. If your mission statement is tired or unclear, craft a new one. This is your chance to tell your donors—both current and potential—why you exist.

Tip: Your report might be digital. Would a video work better? If so, production quality is key.

2. What did you accomplish? Explain your organization’s impact this year. Highlight your successes and be open about any failures, particularly those that were pandemic related.

Tip: Use infographics to show the connection between donors and their impact. Put donors in the picture and use personal language: “Your generous support helped X number of people, animals, virtual performances, etc. We couldn’t do it without you.” 

3. Who made it happen? This is a perfect opportunity to acknowledge and thank your major donors, key patrons, and board members. But don’t forget your volunteers. Take time to highlight those who have not only gone above and beyond in terms of support, but also those who help you achieve your day-to-day goals.

Tip: Pictures really do say a thousand words. Showing people’s faces—yes, even if masked!—is a good way to honor them.

4. What does it take? This section includes your financial information and should show donors that you have been responsible with their gifts. This section might include the same reporting from your Form 990 but be wrapped in a compelling narrative that gives context to the numbers. 

Tip: Donors appreciate transparency. Introduce your financials with a summary that explains how you are doing relative to common benchmarks for your mission and size. 

Any questions about your annual report? We can help.

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