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What To Include In Your Annual Report?

best practices board finances funding reporting Dec 15, 2022

What to Include in Your Annual Report? 

     As the year draws to a close, you’re probably thinking about how to communicate to your donors the impact that their gift has had on your mission. Whether you send an annual report, create a video, setup a specific landing page, or write a simple heartfelt letter, there are four elements you’ll want to include in this essential summary. 

Quantitative Data

     As you share with donors what you’ve done throughout the year, it is often easiest to start with what you can objectively measure or count. Here’s a few examples: 

  •  Number of clients served
  •  Number of times you’ve delivered a certain outreach item or tool
  •  Number of people who participated in your events
  •  Number of people who attended weekly

Personal Stories

     While it’s easy to count people, events, and items, these statistics do not necessarily illustrate qualitative life change. This is where sharing some of your most impactful moments can help connect the dots between the tangible data and the intangible impact on the lives of those you’ve served this year.  It’s so important to be able to share with your donors the stories of those who have responded back about the impact on their lives. Some people may feel comfortable sharing their story on video or writing something down. Others may prefer to just sit down and talk with you about what your mission has done for them, at which point you may be able to write down a few sentences about what you heard. Then you can ask something like, “I’d like to share this with the people who made it possible for us to serve you in this way. Can you review these sentences and make sure they reflect your heart and what you shared with me?” I’ve found this method works well because people are often a little unsure of their own communication and may not feel confident about the way they write or speak. No matter how you capture a person’s story, each time you communicate real-life impact to your donors, it’s a unique way of saying “Thank you. Your gift really did make a difference.” 

Cast Vision

     Once you’ve shared the quantitative and qualitative impact of your donors’ gifts, it’s important to cast the vision for the year to come. Don’t assume that because someone gave before, they will continue to give. Take this opportunity to invite them to give again. You can do this by letting them know what you plan to do and how their giving is critical in making these plans a reality in the coming year. 

Build Trust

     Before you close out your annual communication, don’t miss the opportunity to continue building trust. I’ve shared with you many times from this blog about fraud. It’s rampant. The misuse of resources in nonprofits is a reality that must be addressed. So take some time to clearly communicate the steps your ministry takes to ensure excellent financial stewardship. Here are some examples you could include to help demonstrate your commitment to accountability and transparency: 

  •  Audits of financial statements
  •  Review by an independent CPA firm
  •  Accreditation from a financial accountability organization that ensures your finances are in order
  •  Internal oversight and safeguards that ensure gifts are used for the purposes they were intended

If this article has been helpful for you in crafting your year-end visionary communication, I want to let you know that my heart is to help grow nonprofits by helping practically with processes just like this. I’d love to schedule a free call with you to help get you started with some ideas. 

I also offer a live course  called The Financially Thriving Nonprofit, where we spend an entire section covering visionary communication more in depth. You can learn more about my next live course here. 


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