Hope you are looking forward to Spring and staying safe and sane in these interesting times!
After seeing your mission brought to life and your employees/colleagues fully engaged, almost nothing brings more joy than a gorgeous Annual Report. And, almost nothing inspires more dread than figuring out how to put it all together.
- How do we bring our mission to life?
- Which stories do we tell? Which could we possibly leave out?
- What results can we quantify and own?
Of course, every industry has a host of its own reporting requirements. Public companies have SEC filings, nonprofits have 990s. While these publicly accessible documents have information, they are often dense and do not tell your story nor bring your organization’s work to life.
At the end of the day, your decision on how to approach reporting on impact beyond those regulatory requirements comes down to several strategic considerations:
- Do your investors or funders require or request this reporting as part of applications for funding?
- Would having an impact or annual report advance discussions with prospective donors or investors?
- Can an annual or impact report offer a unique opportunity to recognize investors and donors?
- Might this report allow you to shine a light on and share credit with a key community partner?
And, several operational ones:
- Have you assembled—or can you assemble—the statistics, facts, and proof points that demonstrate your results?
- Is the financial information you will include vetted, audited, or reviewed such that the user can rely upon its veracity and transparency?
- Does your team have the creative assets—written stories, images, logos or other brand marks—to begin to build the report?
As with any project, it’s best to start with a clear strategy around the audience you wish to engage and eyes wide open regarding the financial and human resources you can apply to the effort. Certainly, with all of the demands on our time these days, we can also revel in the knowledge that your impact or annual report need not be a 40-page printed, magazine style document. Your imperatives are to bring the story of your impact to life and to ensure the information you share is insightful and timely.
We’ve appreciated the opportunity to lead the development of several impact or annual reports. Carla’s favorite will always be the United Way 2011-2012 Annual Report with the photo of a baby wearing a “Live United” onesie. Leading the preparation of that report was a labor of love—and it revived United Way’s practice of robust reporting on impact and bringing our work to life via engaging stories. Sol is partial to our recently completed 2017-2020 Impact Report for Miami Dade College Office of Changemaking Education and Social Innovation. Her tireless work on the design really animated the stories of student, faculty and community changemaking. Of course, we see so many beautiful examples of reporting from both corporations and nonprofits. The first report on sustainability that Ryder produced in 2011 was a vanguard in the space—and we recall the passion and pride that the Ryder team showed as they shared the draft of this transformational report with us. Each of these documents transcended their paper or digital formats. They told the story of impact in the moment and became part of the historical narrative of the organization. All because the people who crafted them brought their considerable talent, energy and care to the creation.
Finally, all of the content that is produced from your annual report effort can be repurposed and utilized across all of your communications—from email marketing to social media and advertising placements.
Can sharing the joy of your impact, celebrating the contributions of your constituents, or activating the enthusiasm in your community help you or your favorite nonprofit advance your mission? It can.
And, we can help.
Let’s talk and hatch a plan together.