Preparing your Annual Report
We spend quite a bit of time looking at annual reports that organisations have prepared and talking to prospective clients about what they are hoping to achieve from their annual reports. In this article we thought we’d discuss what we think is important to consider in the creation of an annual report. We hope that it helps you with your next annual report.
The process below helped us to reduce our parent charity’s annual report from a 50 page report to a 12 page report. I’m sure you can imagine how happy this made our staff who had to write content and also the CEO who had to pay for it.
An annual report is not just a legislative requirement, it is also an essential marketing tool that portrays the many facets of your social impact.
A well-designed annual report should allow you to highlight your strengths, capacity and culture and it should do this in a way that is engaging and enlightening. This approach will help you engage with stakeholders to attract more funding.
Before you start the design process, there are some things you will need to consider:
Who will be involved in the process?
It is important to determine from the start who is going to be involved and which role are they going to play in the process.
Most of the people involve in annual reports are constantly busy with their day-to-day activities so it is crucial to set realistic deadlines to make the process as painless as possible.
By setting the sections that you want and the associated length at the beginning you can then influence the creation of content. This will not only help you produce a report that is succinct and flows but it will make it easier to read.
Hire a copywriter to review your content (if possible)
Most organisations will set aside a budget for the design and printing of their annual report, but not for content creation. “Content is King” and a professional copywriter can assist you to create consistent messages and save time and money as they can focus on nothing else but your report. It is their business as usual.
Which images are you going to use?
It is crucial to have a set of high quality images that can be used for the layout. Images that add to your report should be high-resolution and be bigger than 1600 x 1200 pixels. These are usually about 1.2Mb size.
For fast and efficient preparation of your report it is best to have all of these content elements ready before starting the design process.
There is no requirement for you to include financials in an annual report. You can just provide some high level tables and anybody seeking more information can contact you and ask for it. You can then provide them with an electronic copy.
Designing your annual report
Step 1 – Find a story to tell
Your annual report can be designed to represent a unique story. It can be a story of history or recent successes and it should create an opportunity to connect with your target audience at a deeper level.
Step 2 – Choose a format
There are 3 different cost-effective standard formats to select from if you have a tight budget: portrait, landscape or square. Any of these formats will allow you to tell your story in a professional level without expending too much on printing. However, a printed format is not the only way to go. You could consider creating your annual report in a website format.
Step 3 – Highlight your impact
Infographics are a great way of making data interesting and eye-catching. A pie or bar chart can look good but an infographic can represent a broader picture of the impact that your organisation is making.
If this article has been useful to you we’d love it if you could share it with your colleagues who are also beginning to prepare their annual reports.
Please let us know if we can assist you in anyway with the preparation of your reports.