While many organizations are not required to produce an annual report, a wide range of not-for-profits – from associations to charities – choose to report on their accomplishments and promote financial transparency through an annual report.
If you are new to annual report development, or if this is the first time your organization has produced an annual report, it’s important to start by establishing your objective(s) – e.g., what is the role this annual report will play for your organization? This is the first step to take – before you can make any decisions about what information to include and how you might produce the report (e.g., print, digital, etc.).
Here are some of the key reasons organizations create annual reports:
- For many non-profits and charities…
- it is an opportunity for full financial transparency: disclosure on what was accomplished with the funds received; why you did this; and the results - the impact it has had on your mission or the community you are serving
- it offers an opportunity to thank those who enable you to fulfill your mission
- it can be used as a fundraising tool to help build relationships with donors, if it effectively tells human stories about the organization’s work in the community
- It can be used as a marketing piece to tell your story to sponsors and/or partners or included as part of a grant application or media kit.
- For associations, clubs and other membership organizations…
- it is a means of reporting on the organization’s accomplishments over the year and how these have benefited members
- it can demonstrate (through financial reporting) the value of membership - how the membership fees or dues were spent
- it can also be a way of thanking or acknowledging the work of members, volunteers, sponsors, etc.