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6 Tips for an Exciting, Donor-Centric Annual Report

As the financial year draws to a close, the fundraisers amongst us are breathing a sigh of relief knowing our tax-time appeals are now behind us.

The letters have been mailed, the emails are on their way, the thank-you notes are already written. We could almost be forgiven for putting our feet up for a bit.

But then we realise … it’s time to start gathering all that data for the annual report, including income, expenses, stories of impact, and so much more.

It all sounds so tedious. But don’t despair! We’ve got six ways to help ensure your annual report is far more exciting and donor-centric than ever before.

1. Remember the real purpose of your annual report

While it seems obvious that the annual report is a helpful tool for analysing our organisation’s performance, the truth is it can be so much more than just a bland collection of statements and statistics.

In fact, when you approach it from the donor’s perspective, your annual report is an incredibly powerful tool for fundraising! It provides the ideal opportunity to thank your donors for their support, and show them in detail how their partnership is making a difference.

2. Think of your annual report as the ultimate thank-you letter

At the end of each appeal, we send out thank-you letters to those people who have made a contribution, letting them know how their support is going to be put to use. Your annual report should be no different, filled with thanks and praise for the donor’s generosity.

3. Make the donor the hero of your annual report

From the front cover through to the last page, the annual report should paint a picture of everything that’s been achieved through the donor’s support. It’s so tempting to use annual reports as a way to build up staff members, directors, and the fundraising team. And while you definitely should do that, don’t forget that the entire contents of your annual report would not have been possible without your donors.

4. Begin section headings with “You”

If you’re a cat rescue agency, then don’t use the heading ‘Amount of cats rescued 2016-17’, try something more donor-centric like ‘You helped rescue more cats than ever before!’. That heading not only sounds more exciting, it also reinforces that the donor was the key to making it happen.

5. Link dry statistics to emotional impact

It’s so tempting to take the easy way out and just list every statistic you can find, without any real connection to impact. But just imagine the difference it will make to donors when they read about the real impact behind the statistic.

For example, if your organisation helps refugees learn English, you could simply quote a statistic such as ‘We held 128 classes in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth…’. Alternatively, you could infuse some emotion into the report by adding the following … ‘which means hundreds of refugee families across Australia now have a better chance at finding employment and experiencing the life they always dreamed of’.

6. Make it personal through stories and images

While it’s great for your donors to know that 5,000 kids received school breakfasts last year, they will be so much more excited by an accompanying photo and short paragraph about just one of these children.

For example, ‘Mia was losing concentration at school, but thanks to your support, she and thousands of hungry South Australian kids like her are getting the essential food they needed to succeed at school’.

Want to get more excited about your annual report? Then remember to keep it donor-centric as you thank donors for the incredible impact they’ve had through their donations this year. It will be a great encouragement to them, and could just lift donations as donors begin to feel even more motivated to show their support in the year ahead.

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