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Does Your Nonprofit Need an Annual Report?

An Annual Report, is it a financial document or marketing collateral? Should it be printed, or can it be digital? Who has the time to work on it? Who’s going to read it? Do you really need to do one at all?

The only legally required annual report for nonprofit organizations is the IRS Form 990. Yes, the IRS calls its form an annual report. Don’t be confused. Always file your 990.

The document I’m talking about today is a marketing tool and a donor stewardship piece. The production of an annual report can be a big expensive process which takes a lot of time and resources. Now, with design software programs like Adobe, Illustrator and Canva, the design work can be done in-house. Printing can still be expensive, but not prohibitive, especially if a small number is printed and most of the distribution is digital.

An annual report does not have to be called an Annual Report. Today, we see more creative titles, like, The Year in Numbers or The Impact Report or The Gratitude Report. An annual report is your opportunity to highlight the past year’s accomplishments, present your vision for the near future, and declare a call for action for the upcoming year.

Also, it can be a shorter, one – two-page summary of your work. Many recent examples I’ve seen are info graphics and bullet point overviews that are easy to read.

Here are some things to think about and keep in mind for your report:

· Highlight your mission and impact

· Thank your supporters and volunteers

· Make your case for supporting the organization

· Be transparent, be honest

· Acknowledge highs and lows

· Keep it short, simple, and easy to read

· Make it visually compelling by using photos and info graphics

· Include financial reports

An annual report is your chance to tell your story in a comprehensive, compelling way, by including program outcomes, financial reports; by stating what you’ve accomplished and what you plan to do next year. An annual report can be the perfect stewardship tool as well as a cultivation piece. Take the time and put the resources toward making it the best you can, so that it can work for you all year long.

Let us know if you need help in creating a report to tell your nonprofit’s story and successes.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in startup and smaller nonprofits because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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