As the year comes to a close, many organizations are thinking about creating an annual report. As with anything in marketing or design, my first question is always, “Why?” Before you embark on this pretty involved project, make sure you have your reasons for creating an annual report firmly in mind. It is usually something like this:
Tell our story in a way that makes people feel great about supporting us.
Here are some more specific reasons organizations create annual reports, and they also serve as a good starting point for the types of content that should be included. Keep an eye towards presenting as much content as you can in an emotionally engaging way.
Why create an annual report?
- Keep past, current and potential supporters updated on the organization’s latest accomplishments
- Recognize your donors/investors
- Inform people about all aspects of the organization. So often, supporters are only aware of a sliver of the work the organization does.
- Showcase your accomplishments with emotionally compelling personal stories
- Introduce key staff members, board members
- Illustrate financial results
- Present a professional image
- Ultimately, inspire additional investments from supporters
Then, clarify who those supporters are. Are they donors, investors, volunteers, employees, the community? Are they blue-haired music lovers in their 80s? Are they purple-haired environmentalists in their 20s? Are they corporations and foundations with their own motivations? Are they people who want to see their name on a building? The more clear you can be about who you are creating the annual report for, and why they’ll want to read the report, the better you can craft your story to reach them.