It’s that time of year – time to create your nonprofit annual report.
Because your donors like knowing what their donation made possible.
They want to know they’re part of a winning team.
An annual report is a great way to give both donors and the community an overview of what your nonprofit accomplished during the year.
But donors don’t want to read a lot. And you don’t have time or money to produce an elaborate multi-page piece.
Well, good news! It doesn’t have to be hard, glossy, or time-consuming. In fact, there’s a way to create something super easy to read and understand without it taking a lot of your time.
Let’s start with the purpose of your annual report.
What a Nonprofit Annual Report Is
Your annual report has one job: to provide an overview of your nonprofit’s activities and key metrics for a specific year.
It tells the story of what you’ve accomplished during that year.
Some people call it a Generosity Report since you’re sharing the impact of the community’s generosity from last year and how that generosity helped you change lives.
Call it what you like, just create one and share it pretty soon after the end of your fiscal year.
Maybe you’re thinking “I know I need to do one, but I just don’t have time.”
I get it.
But listen, if you want people to keep giving, you MUST keep them in the loop about how things are going. And an annual report is a great way to do that.
So, let’s make it quick and easy for you to create and simple for the reader to understand.
The 1-Page Nonprofit Annual Report
The 1-page nonprofit annual report is basically a big infographic.
It’s a visually interesting way to quickly show what your nonprofit did during the year.
What I like best about it is how skimmable it is. You can glance over it and get the gist fast.
People are busy and won’t read a lot of text and with the 1-page nonprofit annual report, there’s not much text to read.
Since it’s only one page, it’s easily sharable on your website, social media, and through email. And if you need to print a copy to mail to specific donors, you can do it without it being expensive.
Choosing an Infographic Tool
To create a 1-page nonprofit annual report, you need to choose the data you want to share then pick an infographic tool to create it.
It might be helpful to choose the tool first so you can pick the template you want to use. Based on the template you pick, you’ll know how many pieces of data and images you’ll need.
Tools like Canva, Venngage, and Piktochart have infographic templates that make quick work of creating an infographic. Just pick the template you like, replace the placeholder text and images with yours, and voila! You have a 1-page nonprofit annual report!
The tools are not terribly hard to use – I created my first infographic annual report in Piktochart learning as I went and it took me about an hour. Not bad for a professional-looking piece from someone who isn’t a professional designer!
Once you pick your template, you’re ready to gather some info that represents your year to plug in to your template.
What data to include in your Nonprofit Annual Report
If a lot has happened in your nonprofit during the year, it can be hard to pick just a few key pieces of info to share.
Just remember that your donors don’t need to know everything – they only need the most important things.
So, what 3 or 4 key performance metrics can you share that give someone a good idea of the impact of your work during the year?
Honestly, this is the hardest part of the whole thing.
Put yourself in the donor’s shoes – what is she interested in? What does SHE want to know?
Then find the intersection between what the donor NEEDS to know and what they WANT to know that you can report on.
You’ll probably have room for a photo, so pick one that best illustrates your organization in action and let that photo help bring the story to life.
Be sure to customize the template so it’s on brand for your nonprofit. Make sure you swap out your brand colors and fonts for whatever is in the template, and don’t include anything weird that would make your favorite donors wonder who this report is from.
If you’re not much of a designer it can be tough to choose the right template or layout. Here’s a Pinterest Board with some good examples to help get your creative juices flowing.
Other info to include in your Nonprofit Annual Report
Regardless of the length of your nonprofit annual report, there are several must-include pieces of info:
Fiscal year. Seems obvious, but some people forget to identify the fiscal year that the report covers.
Mission statement. You need a short, to-the-point version of your mission statement that’s free of jargon and easy for the average person to understand. If you have a good vision statement, you can include that, too, as long as it’s short.
Financials. The best way to show financial information is in pie charts. Create one for revenue and another one for expenses, showing the information in broad categories with names the average person can understand. Here’s an example:
You don’t need audited financial numbers, though you can use them if you have them. Just use your official, final numbers for the year and be ready to answer questions from donors if any of the pie slices look too big or too small.
Contact information. Don’t forget to include your nonprofit’s name, mailing address, phone number, website, and main email address, just in case someone wants to reach out to you.
Here’s a sample 1-page annual report from Draft Gratitude:
If you’re a Fundraising TV member, grab the Annual Report Swipe File to see dozens of examples of great annual reports.
Where to share your 1-page Nonprofit Annual Report
Once you get your nonprofit annual report all put together, share it everywhere! It’s a great relationship building tool, and we recommend you use it as part of your donor nurture plan.
- Post it on your website.
- Email it out to your entire list.
- Post it on your social media.
- Send a print copy to your best donors along with a handwritten note.
- Send a copy to your local and state elected officials along with a cover letter to let them know what your nonprofit has accomplished in their constituent area. By the way, this is a great tactic if you’re planning to ask these people for money later.
- Send it as a follow up to grant funders.
By the way, when you send out your annual report, don’t ask for money. I know it’s tempting, but don’t do it.
Let this be one of your relationship-building communications with no ask. There’ll be time for asking for money later.
The Bottom Line
Keeping donors and the community in the know about what your nonprofit has accomplished is key to building relationships.
Good information helps build trust and a 1-page nonprofit annual report is a great way to share the overview of what your nonprofit did during the year, especially if it’s easy to read and understand.
Plus, it’s a versatile tool that you can use in a variety of ways to show your nonprofit’s impact from last year.
And once you see the response from your donors, you’ll know just how powerful the 1-page nonprofit annual report is.
Great resource! thank you!
This is a great option for many and a reminder that not everyone needs the “works” when it comes to their annual report. I think many nonprofits will benefit from using this approach and hopefully avoid some of the bigger mistakes sometimes made! I wrote a similar piece and included a few examples plus a template for nonprofits to use. Your readers might find that helpful: http://www.oneninedesign.net/blog/annual-report