How To Write A Nonprofit Annual Report
Here are some tips for leaders responsible for writing an effective annual report for their nonprofit organization.
Consider making these objectives for your report:
- To demonstrate accomplishments (not activities) (results and how you did it).
- To recognize important people (volunteers, donors, major funders, partners).
- To provide an account of your organization's work for the past year.
- To share your mission with a wide audience.
- To generate new donations, retain donors and grow partnerships.
Consider these audience sectors when writing your report:
- Community leaders
- Future board members
- Supporters (in-kind)
- Elected officials
- Potential partners, grant funding entities
Allow three to four months to prepare your report:
- Create and outline
- Gather an organize content
- Engage your management team
Consider packaging your report with a theme, such as one of these:
- Day in the life
- Critical issues
- Progress toward the future
- New undertakings
- Milestone anniversary
Present your financials with:
- Pie charts and bar charts (use five or less elements in your pie charts)
- Numbers and percentages
- Explanations about where your revenue comes from and how the money is spent
Include at least these sections and elements in your report:
- Executive Director letter
- Donor list
- Board of Directors list
- Call to action
- Lots of photos
- Stories (profiles) to highlight your successes
And before you start preparing your next report, use this checklist:
- Who will help prepare the report?
- Do we need to engage an external freelancer (writing and/or design)?
- Who will write the Executive Director letter?
- Are we gathering photos all year long so we have enough come time to prepare our report?
- Is our donor list accurate and up-to-date?
- What will be our annual report's theme?
- Will we distribute in print and/or online?
- What are our best stories to tell?
- What time of year will we release our report?
- What are our three major accomplishments/achievements for the past year?
- Who will double and triple check our reported financials and donor list for accuracy?
- Where will we tell our key messages in different ways (Executive Director letter, photo captions, etc.)?
- What calls to action will we include?