Association Coffee GraphicIt’s that time of the year again when nonprofit staffs eat a lot of pizza in the conference room and drink a lot of lattes during late night breaks to produce their annual reports. In honor of all of those marketing coordinators, membership directors, and executive directors who are working tirelessly to convey a year’s worth of effort and make sense of a 5-year marketing plan in a few amazing paragraphs, here are some tips for creating an effective annual report that attracts new members and donors in 2014.

1. Keep it Short

Annual Reports—just like any other piece of marketing material—are designed to convey a message to their readers. Don’t include material that might dilute your message? You want to quickly and easily engage readers, explain what you do, and convince them that your organization is worth contributing to.

(Pro Tip: The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” holds particularly true regarding annual reports. Images and infographics are nice way of keeping your content short and streamlined and still convey a lot of information.)

2. Keep it Simple

Fortunately, nonprofits aren’t stuck with all of the SEC requirements that their for profit counterparts have to deal with, but that doesn’t stop non-profits from unknowingly cluttering up their annual reports. Organizing and labeling key sections, combined with simple language (around an 8th grade level is recommended), and summaries at the beginning of each section will allow readers to pour through the text heavy sections of your organization’s report quickly and efficiently.

(Pro Tip: Infographics can be a great tool when utilized properly but having infographics for the sake of just having them is considered clutter. (Yes, even if they look really cool). If you use infographics in your report, make sure their designs are in-line with your message and that they convey information that emphasizes the theme of your report.)

3. Keep it Sweet!

There are a myriad of great nonprofits that are working hard to improve our society—so why should readers donate to, or volunteer for yours? Convincing readers to commit to your cause is no easy task. Here are some tips to make it a little easier.

• Tell a story that is centered on the impacts your organization has on people and the community. Show them the results your organization achieved.

• Create a world for readers to dive into by using pictures and testimonials of the people whose lives your organization has changed.

• Remember to highlight the human element of your organization’s work. Images, quotes and stories from volunteers and staff will go a long way towards connecting readers to your cause, as well as enhance your organization’s image.

A simple and great example of this, that is often seen on Facebook, are the before and after photos of dogs that have been rescued by the local humane society. In only a few seconds, viewers can see the dramatic difference the humane society has made on that dog’s life. Parallels can be found in almost any organization.

Short, Simple and Sweet, if your nonprofit follows these three tenets you are well on way to producing a great annual report. Many organizations struggle with principle one and two because they get lost in their passion for their cause. In these circumstances, it’s a good idea to hire outside content developers and designers. They will ensure that your message and passion gets across, without any unnecessary clutter.

That is it for today but for more marketing tips and trends relating to Annual Reports keep it locked on True Creative Services. Check back in next week for our “ARTICLE TITLE.”

 

 

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