CBC Blog

How to Make Your Nonprofit’s Annual Report Stand Out

– Written By Lauren Hall, Senior Account Executive at Scooter Media

It’s that time of year again: nonprofit annual report season. A nonprofit’s annual report is more than financial graphs and donor lists; it’s a way to share what really matters with your constituents – most importantly, your mission. Annual reports are yet another tool to help build donor trust, which is important to maintain, and easy to lose.

You won’t always have a donor’s ear at just the right moment, so let your nonprofit’s annual report do some of the talking for you! While your organization might be tempted to recycle your reports from years past, incorporating some of these tips will help your publication stand out. Check out our tips to make your nonprofit’s Annual Report stand out.

Captivate with a “Gratitude Report” instead of an “Annual Report”

Celebrating your organization’s success is an important part of every annual report, but don’t forget to acknowledge your supporters. Consider incorporating testimonials from donors, volunteers, and funders throughout your report. Not only is this a great way to say “thank you,” but quotes from your supporters can also add to your nonprofit’s level of credibility.

Incorporating donor-centered language into your annual report is very important. Using statements like “because of you,” “with your support,” and “when you give” helps to make the reader feel like you are speaking directly to them. We love this example Gratitude Report from Interval House. Not only does the report include several donor highlights, but also, each section of this report speaks directly to the supporter reading it.

Change Your Once a Year Report to a Quarterly Dashboard

Break free from the once a year annual report. Instead, create a simple report that highlights your organization’s top successes and metrics each quarter. This is a great way to keep donors and volunteers engaged with your nonprofit on a more frequent basis with “more of less.” The dashboard not only gives financial updates and tells member stories, but it also allows the reader to get to know the staff by highlighting work anniversaries and new hires.

Capture Your Readers with Great Design

No matter your budget or skill level, there is always room for great design in an annual report. Websites like Canva or Stencil offer affordable (mostly free) report templates that are beautifully designed and only require you to drop in your information. For those with the Adobe Creative Suite, we recommend using a template from Adobe Stock or Envato Elements. These sites offer thousands of designs suitable for Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Remember, photos are worth a thousand words. So show your supporters what you have been doing by liberally using photos in your design.

Consider Developing a Microsite

Microsites are a great way to modernize your nonprofit’s annual report, highlighting the key points of your year in review. Whether your organization utilizes WordPress or hires a designer, microsites can be created on any budget. Popular sites incorporate big, bold key performance indicators telling their story in numbers. Remember that photos and phrases in the site help to convey their programmatic priorities: accessibility, diversity, and community.

Whether it’s refreshing your content or incorporating a new design to your annual report, small changes can make a big impact when it comes to growing your constituent base or engaging stale supporters. At the end of the day, your organization’s annual report should reflect all the amazing things that it has accomplished that year. Make sure that it is the best that it can be.


Scooter Media is an award-winning boutique PR agency specializing in public relations, social media and digital communications based in Covington, Ky. This post originally appeared on ScooterMediaCo.com.

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