When recruiting new donors or even impressing sustainers, having an annual report that grabs and keeps their attention is an essential tool for your marketing strategy.
What are the components of a successful and effective annual report? What pieces do you want to incorporate to make it a must-have part of your marketing efforts without breaking your budget?
Annual reports come in various formats: some are strictly print-only, some are a hybrid of print and interactive PDFs, and others are digital only (think mini-sites on your website or a dedicated page).
Regardless of what format you choose to utilize to get your annual report out there, there are still crucial pieces of information you want to include for it to have a lasting impact on your donors.
The first thing your donor sees will be the cover of your annual report, so you must ensure you're putting your best foot forward.
Whether that is a mix of compelling graphics, inspiring visuals, or stock photography, you must start strong to encourage your donors to keep reading.
We've heard it repeatedly—a picture is worth 1,000 words. There's a reason this saying is true: it works.
Incorporating compelling graphics that tell your nonprofit's story and show the impact you have made say more than a success story (although those are great, too).
A table of contents is essential if your report is more than a few pages long. Regarding your digital version: incorporate hyperlinks, so it's easier for your donors to navigate to what matters most to them.
Pro Tip: When it comes to your digital report, make sure it's easy to navigate, especially on mobile.
Remember the audience you're serving: who are they, and what demographic do they help? Offering your annual report in multiple languages is a great way to show inclusivity to all your potential and current donors.
Don't have space to offer it in two or more languages? Utilize a QR code to download translated versions. There are several translation services available online that you can use to ensure it's translated correctly.
As we mentioned above, stories—whether from the people you've helped or those who work for your organization—are one of the most effective ways to get your donors to remember you.
Impact stories from people your nonprofit has helped are a no-brainer, especially if you have a video you can incorporate on a digital version that allows them to tell their own story.
Each year's report should focus on a different theme or area of your nonprofit that you concentrated on that year.
Utilizing themes allows you to broaden your design chops yearly and focus on different aspects of your organization and its work.
Whether obvious or not, statistics, especially visually shown as graphs or infographics, help your donors understand your organization's impact.
Your entire report shouldn't be just data in this format: pull quotes, unique graphics, and more should be a portion of your design but not overshadow the rest of your report.
Are you looking for a more comprehensive checklist of must-haves? Here are a few you want to ensure you don't forget when designing your report.
• Brief letter from the Executive Director or a summary statement
• Program highlights
• Stats to show results compared to the previous year
• Success stories
• Any programming or significant events unique to that year (major donations, disaster relief, staff additions, etc.)
• Financial summary
• Vision or plan for the coming year
• Acknowledgement of donors
• Call to action (volunteer opportunities, special programming, etc.)
Pro Tip: When crafting copy, remember to make it YOU-focused and about the donors and their impact.
By keeping these simple steps in mind, you can craft an attention-grabbing annual report that will leave a lasting impression.
If you're looking for direct mail format ideas for your yearly annual report, consider checking out our USPS® approved templates on our website.
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