While it is uncommon to see annual reports as a general association practice, I know that a few of you create them. In the for-profit world, this is not a one-time publication; every year the annual report that looks back on key accomplishments (the goal). The audience is shareholders, customers, and prospective customers. That includes your members and leaders. Whether 2 pages or a more lengthy document, an annual report can help you articulate what you do to deliver value to your members.
As a tool to communicate, associations report on their accomplishments and progress. Consider four good reasons to produce an annual report. Wild Apricot helped me learn about and test all of them:
- It offers financial transparency: disclosure on what was accomplished with the fees and dues you spent; the purpose for the activity and the results – the impact it has had on your mission and members.
- It is a one-time opportunity to thank leaders, committee chairs, members and sponsors who enable you to fulfill your mission.
- It is an effective awareness tool to help build connections with members, if it effectively tells human stories about the organization’s work to serve the industry.
- It can function all year long as a marketing piece to tell your story to members, prospective members and/or affiliates, or included in a media kit.
In brief, the annual report looks back at the year that was, the accomplishments and lessons learned.
Components of a purposeful annual report:
1. Cover Image – a compelling representation of the association’s image. It should depict your value proposition to members
2. Narrative Statements that includes some or all of these sub-sections:
Looking Back / Overview
Letter to members from President regarding your strategic plan – Do not include fluff. This is not about how much you enjoyed your year. Tell members about significant strategic goals, WIIFM (member) and how the board is progressing.
Pertinent (short) highlights of the history of your Association
Services / Product Line Updates (brief)
Management Report from AE (regarding staff and key people and process initiatives)
2-5 Year Financial Trends
Performance / Year in Review
Analysis & Significant Trends
New Products, Services, Initiatives
Immediate Future Plans
Imminent New Products / Services
Photos/Illustrations - Any or all sections may include photographs, charts and graphs. These may be photographs of buildings inside and outside, pictures of people and events, BOD, staff and members. It can include images of new products or tools in development or in use, or images that illustrate key services.
3. Financial Statements – The financial statements are the raw data upon which much of the narratives are based.
Cash Flow Statement
Graphs and Charts
4. Appendices - Any supporting documents not included in the narrative or financial sections.
While the association supplies the content, a designer (in collaboration with the AE) is responsible for arranging the content and creating an attractive, readable annual report.
For some of you, a create a 2 page annual report will make more sense – for examples, go to: http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog/2011/08/17/creating-a-two-page-nonprofit-annual-report/