Get Organized This Summer – Prepare for your Annual Report

Photo by Eric (aka Herve) via Flickr

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been offering tips to help you get organized during your summer “downtime” and prepare for a busy fall. 

You may not be thinking about your annual report during these lazy, hazy days of summer, but you should be. Putting together an annual report can take awhile.  However, if you start preparing ahead of time, you should be able to get it done by the beginning of next year.

While you won’t be able to do everything, such as financials, there is a lot you can do now.  Some of the components listed below are not exclusive to your annual report.

Your annual report doesn’t need to be a glossy 20 page document.  If you are a small organization, that would not be a good use of your resources. The trend now is about four to six pages.  All annual reports – short or long – should be visual and not filled with long-winded text and statistics.

Remember that the focus of your annual report is showing gratitude to your donors and demonstrating how their support has made a difference.

What can you work on ahead of time?

Stories
Gather stories about the people you serve.  It’s a good idea to have a set of stories available to use in a variety of materials besides your annual report.  These include your annual appeal, website, and newsletter.  Stories are much more captivating than explanatory text.

Quotes
Work with your program staff to interview clients and find interesting quotes.  You can also use quotes in your other materials.  Put together a quote bank for future use.

Pictures
Invest time in creating some great photographs. Your supporters are not going to spend much time reading your annual report, but if you can engage them with photos, you should be able to tell a story instantly.  

Choose photos of people participating in an activity, such as kids in an afterschool program.  You’ll save time in the future if you have a collection of photos to use in all your fundraising and marketing materials.

This link will give you more information about creating stories and photographs.

Accomplishments
Last year I wrote a post about annual reports and suggested keeping a running list of accomplishments.  Does your Organization Need an Annual Report?  

If you have been doing that, great. If not, start thinking about what you want to include.  Have you met or exceeded certain goals?  Be sure to list accomplishments and not activities.  Show results and how you have made a difference.

Donor list
Depending on what type of donor database you have, it may or may not be easy for you to quickly compile a list of donors by giving level.  If it isn’t, why not start on this now and save time later.

These are a just few areas where you can get a head start.  I’ll revisit this subject again in the fall with more information on creating a great annual report.

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