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Tips for Association and Non-profit Annual Reports

Are you producing an annual report this year? Whether you’re a staff member or volunteer, working at a non-profit or an association, producing an annual report can seem like an overwhelming task.

In a post earlier this year, we offered some best practices for non-profit annual reports to help you in Getting Ready for Annual Reports.

But if you’re new to annual reports you might be wondering things like…

  • Where should I start? …who should I involve?
  • What do I include? How much information is too much?
  • Should I print copies or provide a digital version?

Annual Report Blog Series

Since we promised to provide more tips, ideas and information, this is the first in an Annual Report Blog Series designed for the staff and/or volunteers of small non-profits or membership organizations that are producing their first annual report, or who want a little help to take this year’s report to the next level.

So stay tuned to this blog for the next 3 Wednesdays where we’ll offer tips and advice through posts on:

  1. What to include in your Annual Report
  2. Telling Your Story In Your Annual Report
  3. Choosing a Format for your Annual Report

New Annual Report Resources: Guide & Checklist

We’re also launching 2 new resources (now in our Membership Knowledge Hub) created with small non-profits and membership organizations in mind:

Getting Started With Annual Reports:

This is a practical resource that offers general guidance for individuals who are tasked with producing an annual report for the first time. It includes thoughts on:

  • why organizations create annual reports;
  • what to include (and what to avoid);
  • reminders about telling stories and using visuals to create more compelling reports;
  • thoughts on the types of formats you might consider
  • examples of some non-profit annual reports

Annual Report Checklist:

This is a list of questions to help get you started with your annual report planning.

 

5 Questions to Get You Started…

In the meantime, here are 5 questions to consider as you start your annual report planning:

  1. What are your objectives? Clarifying the reasons why you are creating this report will help in determining the key messages and how to best provide these to your target audience.
  2. Who is your key audience? By defining or better understanding your key audience(s) you can think about their expectations in terms of content and ensure you speak in a voice that resonates with those individuals.
  3. What are your key messages and accomplishments? (Kivi Leroux Miller - nonprofitmarketingguide.com) - suggests you “identify three things you [are] most proud of from last year” and think about “what aspects you would emphasize if you only have five minutes to tell a stranger about your nonprofit’s good work? Your annual report should flow from the answers to these questions.”
  4. Can you show and tell? Have you identified individuals (members, volunteers, program recipients, constituents) whose stories you can tell to make the report compelling? Do you have photos, graphics and other visuals to add impact?
  5. Who are the stakeholders you’ll need to involve?
    • Do you have a list of the individuals who will provide content? (e.g., Committee Chairs; Treasurer; ED; volunteers; subject matter experts; etc.)
    • What about those who will want to review, edit and/or approve the content? (e.g., communications staff/volunteers; Board; ED; ) – should you create a committee or advisory group to help streamline the writing and approval process?
    • Who is the keeper of the photographs, images, logos etc.? (e.g., newsletter editors; photographers)

We hope this blog series and our Annual Report Guide and Checklist help you create an informative and engaging annual report.

Let us know what you think of this series and our Guide in the comments below.

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Published Thursday, 05 April 2012 at 9:53 AM
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