For most not for profit organisations, the most significant communication and marketing document is their annual report. A well written annual report will convey organizational history and achievements during the period of review and, of course, compulsory financial reporting.

With a limited number of pages to express such vital yet necessary information, many charities struggle yearly to find new and creative ways to present their reports. Here are several tips on making writing your annual report a lot less of a headache.

1) Focus on four to five major accomplishments. As painful as it may be to cast off all the little wins here and there, focus on the big or most meaningful results. Yes, this means you will leave the work of someone on your staff out, but readers will be much more likely to remember those few accomplishments when they tell others later about you organization. You can always recognize the other projects in other ways, such as on your website or in your newsletter.

2) Think about using cool graphics. Instead of printing your financial statements, use some really nice pie charts or graphs to tell your story visually. Include two or three short sentences about where you get your money and how you spend it, in plain English. Include a short note about how supporters can download your full financials on your website.

3) Use only a handful of great images. Rather than shrink a dozen photos down in order to make them all fit, pick the five to seven you think really say the most about your work. Write really good captions for them that will stand on their own (remember, many people will read your headlines and captions only, then put the report down).

4) Share a few quick stories. You don’t have space for full profiles, but you can quickly share anecdotes about some of the people you helped and worked with that relate to those four or five accomplishments you are highlighting. Stories are great ways to give examples of more esoteric accomplishments and to help put lots of statistics into perspective. Or, if you have one really amazing story that says it all, use the space to tell that single story well.

5) Empathise. To be effective, your narrative must tell your stakeholders what they want to hear. Put yourself in the shoes of your users or funder. What would they want to know about the organization and its performance over the year? Also, think about questions users often ask you that could be highlighted.  However, only you can decide how much detail to include. Once you’ve worked that out, explain it clearly and with the fewest words possible.

6) Go the extra mile for your readers. Ask yourself:  “Have  we gone the extra mile to present an honest-yet-dynamic picture of my organization?” The best way to do this is to tell evocative stories that explain how you work with clients, service users, local community, etc and how your organization fits into your overall sector.  For example, include user’s success stories in your narrative. Use graphics to further educate readers and elevate their understanding of what sets you apart.

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Our annual report services include 1) Copywriting 2) Design and Print 3) Digital Annual Reports 4) Photography. We currently have special offers and packages on printing annual reports and newsletters with savings of up to 30% in many cases. Contact us today via our online form, email, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for a free, no obligation discussion on how we can meet your company’s annual report or general printing needs.