Annual Report Writing for Nonprofit – Seven Quick Tips

Published on 6th January 2020

Annual Report Writing for Nonprofit: Chances are; you have already done this, If you have, well done, If you haven’t, here are seven quick tips to get you started.  You have to write a report of your events, activities, spending, income and all that you have done in the year.

1. Focus on accomplishments, not activities. Your readers most likely want to know what you did, but more importantly want to know why you did it. What were the results? Why did you spend your time the way you did? What difference did it make? It always helps it you can link your accomplishments back to your vision. (See our blog on ‘Essential Growth Strategies for Nonprofit to learn more)

2. Jettison the administrative. Getting a high-speed connection in the office and new office management software may be big accomplishments from where you sit, but they typically have nothing to do with your mission as a nonprofit organisation. Inspire donors with accomplishments related to your mission in your annual report and leave the administrative highlights for your board report.

3. Include photos. Yes, a picture really can be worth a thousand words. Most of the people reading your annual report will not actually read the report cover to cover. Show them what you’ve been doing with photos. If you do not have a digital camera, you can start by using your phone. It is also fine to use stock photography to illustrate your work.

4. Write captions that tell a story. Now that you have gotten the reader looking at the photos, tell a story with your captions. Do more than stating what is obviously in the photo. Connect the photo to an accomplishment, a community where you work in or a recent project that was won. If people read nothing but the captions in your annual report, they should get a sense for the good work you did in the past year.

5. Explain your financials. A large proportion of your stakeholders may not understand your financial tables and graphs or have the time to read and assimilate the information. It is important to explain with words, and as little financial jargon as possible what the tables, balance sheet and P&L statements are telling them. A quick question to ask yourself is – Where does our money come from and how have we
spent it. Be sure to include a comprehensive report but do not limit the financials to graphs and tables only.

6. Triple-check your donor lists. Make sure you do not omit any donor that has contributed to your work in the financial year. Spell names correctly and assign credit to the right donor for the right achievement in the year. It not only looks tardy but may jeopardize future donations if a donor is omitted or name spelt incorrectly in your annual report.

7. Tell donors how they can help. Never leave a potential supporter wondering how they can help you. Once you’ve inspired them with the good work in your annual report, close by telling them how they can help you do more. How can they support you with their money or time? Do you offer planned giving options, for example? Will you accept gifts of stock? Can they use a credit card? Be clear about the best
way to help continue the great work in the coming year.

Findev Consulting Limited is a UK based consultancy that provides grant management training to NGOs and civil society organisation. We have worked with numerous nonprofits across 3 continents, focusing on proposal development, strategic planning and project evaluation.

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