Rocking Your Annual Report

December 5, 2017


Whether you work for a publicly traded company or a nonprofit, your organization will need to produce an annual report, one that highlights its values, vision and impact. Here’s how to create a report that illuminates how your organization made a significant difference over the past year.

First, create an outline for each part of your report. This will likely include:

  • A message from the head of your organization and/or the board chair;
  • An overview of your organization’s mission and vision, along with its strategy for carrying out that mission and vision;   
  • An overview of how well your company has completed its goals;
  • Any necessary financials—which ones will depend upon your organization’s status as a nonprofit or public company;
  • Sections devoted to each of your company’s services, products, or group of products;
  • Written testimonials from satisfied customers, clients, volunteers and other individuals whose lives have been touched by your organization’s work; and  
  • A list of your board of directors, management and, if appropriate, financial supporters.    

Now gather the materials you need and write the report.

  • Use a professional, yet conversational tone that avoids jargon. Don’t say that your company “Leveraged employee assets to achieve results in the near term.” Instead, tell stories about how employees helped individuals benefit from your organization’s products or initiatives.
  • Try to keep descriptions to a few paragraphs. Write short, simple sentences with active verbs. Revise often; don’t worry if you write three (or even ten!) drafts. Each one will bring you closer to excellence.
  • Focus on a few major accomplishments over the past year. Has your company launched a successful new product, exceeded overall sales goals or made life-changing contributions to your cause and/or your community?  
  • Acknowledge issues the organization may have had to overcome. “Despite _____ challenge(s), XYZ Corporation was able to bounce back and achieved ________. 
  • Briefly mention projects and prospects for the year ahead.
    • Ask readers to support your organization—by connecting on social media, subscribing to an online newsletter, taking a survey, or, by donating to you (if you’re a nonprofit) or to a cause you support (if you’re a business). 

Don’t forget to include photos, charts and infographics for your report that vividly illustrate how your organization has succeeded over the past year!

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