So often non-profit annual reports become the result of boring data presented in a sterile and unflattering manner. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be this way! With just a little bit of thought and some good design skills, an annual report can be a glowing testament to your present and future donors, staff, and volunteers that your cause is something to celebrate.
A great example we stumbled onto was The Nature Conservancy Annual Report for 2009. There are three main reasons that we see this to be such an effective annual report.
1. Easy To View
With all of our technological advances you’d think getting your hands on an annual report would be easy, but all too often we run into causes making it so difficult for someone to view an annual report on their computer. This is not the case for The Nature Conservancy. They provide several different ways to view the report so that you can choose the format that is favorable to you. There is a PDF version, an online version (flash), and also the main executive summary that is covered on the actual annual report webpage. Our favorite is actually the PDF because its not large in file size, its easy to flip through online or offline, and its easy to share with other people as well as an email attachment or beaming it to someone else over wifi or bluetooth
2. Easy To Understand the Numbers
No giant charts, no weird jargon, all numbers shown throughout the report are clear to understand and broken down into their simplest terms. This is key. We’re absolutely positive that they have much larger spreadsheets of data upon data but the truth is that most supporters aren’t so interested in the details, instead they’d like the 20,000 foot overview. The beauty of this annual report is that they always give the 20,000 foot view and then in some spots they dive a little bit deeper and provide a 5,000 foot view. Its still not getting too intricate, but providing just enough of some specific information that a supporter would feel satisfied but not overwhelmed.
3. Rich Use of Visuals
Every where you look in any of the three delivery methods for the annual report, you come across breathtaking pictures (like the one featured above), an amazingly vibrant array of colors, and enough whitespace that compels you to focus on the right elements, rather than getting distracted by them. Another thing to point out is that you’ll notice a key pattern of image – text – numbers – text – image used throughout the downloadable pdf and the interactive online version. This is the main reason the annual report is so compelling. As the reader flips through it, they get the feeling that “it just feels right”, and this is why. Essentially its the secret sauce.
Its apparent that The Nature Conservancy surely knows that their annual report is also one of their best tools for fundraising by giving donors justification that their philanthropy will be used appropriately and also encourage them to share their love of the organization with their family and friends.