Five Tips to Keep in Mind When Writing a Nonprofit Annual Report

Tax Professionals' Resource
August 7, 2012 — 1,050 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

As a nonprofit director or member, you understand the value of putting together an annual report. While you aren't required by law to publish this report, it can allow you to recognize important people, demonstrate your accomplishments to current and prospective donors and form new partnerships. Although you don't need anything fancy, a well-written annual report is a necessity for recounting your organization's work during the past year. Therefore, you may want to consider these tips that can make putting together your report easier and more effective.

1. Showcase your accomplishments - The first thing you'll want to focus on is your organization's accomplishments. While the activities your group took part in throughout the year are likely extensive, this is the time to pick just a few of the biggest or with the most meaningful results. Make sure you explain why you did this, where your time and money went and what the outcome was. Help your readers understand your mission.

2. Recognize the donor list properly - You may have a laundry list of donors, but sometimes you simply can't list every single one on the annual report. If the majority of the report is the donor list, consider trimming it down to only the highest contributors and recognizing other donors in a separate newsletter. You could also choose to only recognize the donors who contributed to the causes or accomplishments you are highlighting. On the other hand, some groups include a general statement to all donors and leave off individual names.

3. Use charts and images - Spice your report up a bit by using images, charts and graphs. A chart is a great way to showcase your financial statements and your fundraising accomplishments. Including pictures of various events and members of your group can also provide a deeper look into your organization and what you have done during the year.

4. Be honest about finances - Your annual report is a statement of your credibility, so double-check that all of the information you provide is completely accurate. This goes for anything you print, from fact to figures, but is especially important in regards to financial statements. Therefore, it's essential to keep good records throughout the year and to notify your financial director of the information you want to include in the report well in advance.

5. Tell a story - Finally, do your best to ensure the annual report resonates with readers. You want them to finish reading with the sense that your organization is truly accomplishing great things. Include personal stories from members and those you have helped and allow donors, partners and those in the community to understand the story of your year's work.

Tax Professionals' Resource