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3 questions to ask as you plan your annual report

Posted January 27, 2021 by Virginia Davidson

Planning your annual report

Many nonprofits create annual reports to provide financial transparency to their donors, thank supporters, and share the impact of the organization’s work over the past year. How can you prepare an annual report that conveys your organization’s message and is compelling to your supporters?

Ask yourself these 3 questions as you plan ahead for your next annual report


What are the key takeaways for the year?

Think of an annual report as a chance to narrate your nonprofit’s story. You’re not just reporting on a completed to-do list for the past year; you’re fitting those accomplishments into the story of your organization and its impact. How will the past year’s accomplishments pave the way for your work in the year to come?

What data do you want to share, and can you report on that data?

What numbers will you use to tell your nonprofit’s story, and, most importantly, do you actually have that data? If you realize there’s data you want to present but you haven’t been tracking it, plan to include it in next year’s report and set up a way to start tracking it now.

Bottom line: Plan ahead and communicate with other staff members so you understand what data you’ll need to produce, and so you can adjust plans if the data doesn’t exist this year.

How will you present that data?

Whenever possible, show don’t tell. Infographics are a great way to inform your donors in a more engaging way than a text-heavy annual report would. Consider using infographics to:

  • Illustrate the problem your organization strives to solve
  • Show the impact of your donors’ contributions
  • Share your organization’s financials

You can use an online tool such as Canva to create infographics that will wow your donors.


Annual reports can be a useful tool for donor stewardship and marketing, so make sure you’re creating one that effectively narrates your organization’s story and shares data in meaningful ways.

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