Preparing Annual Reports
December 2022

Preparing Annual Reports

Preparing an annual report can be a daunting task and often, you may not know where to begin. Photos, content, and financials all need to be collected and organized before the report is designed and laid out. After years of designing annual reports, we’ve put together a list of tips that can help the preparation process run smoothly.

Preparing Annual Reports

When planning your publication, start from your mailing date and work backwards. If your donors need it by November 1, know that mailing will take 2 weeks, printing will take 2 to 3 weeks, revision time can take 2 weeks, and layout can take about 2 to 3 weeks for a 24-page publication.

Start with an outline of what you would like the content of your report to include. This can be as simple as what you think the table of contents should look like.

Use cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Docs to create and organize folders that match your outline. Using software like these allows you to collaborate with co-workers for content or feedback and your design team. For example, a folder named “Letter from the Executive Director,” would include a photo of the Executive Director and a Word document of the letter. Don’t worry about the layout. Your design team will take care of that.

Preparing Annual Reports

All copy should be in its final draft prior to providing it to your design team. This makes the editing process between you and the design team easier and more efficient. Plus, the design process will be faster since the design team will know how much copy/content they are working with.

Photos are wonderful assets to tell your story. However, photos need to be large with a high resolution of at least 300 DPI or 1800x1200 pixels. If you want to use photos that are on a website, do not save the images directly from the website. They have likely been compressed for web use and will be fuzzy or grainy when you print them.

While it can be difficult to determine the exact cost of production until the design of your report is laid out, knowing your publication budget will help your design team decide what printing process and paper type to use to make sure your publication stands out. Once the design draft is nearing its final version, you can get an updated printing quote since you should know exactly how many pages your publication is going to be.

Preparing Annual Reports

Have more than two people on your team carefully review drafts for misspellings, extra spaces or missed punctuation. It’s easy to miss errors when you’ve looked at the same text for too long.

Think about how you are going to mail it. Is it going to need an envelope? Will it be mailed as a magazine with the return address printed on the back? Nonprofits can register for a unique permit to save on mailing.

When the annual report is completed, you can request campaign marketing graphics that complement your annual report so you can advertise it through your e-newsletters or on social media.

Get the most out of your investment and marketing dollars. Your annual report can serve so many purposes. It can be used as a brochure, sent to a previous donor or included with grant applications. When you start preparing your next annual report, consider hiring Hello Amigo as your design team. We’ll help you create the best publication your organization has ever seen. We can also build unique microsites to compliment printed annual reports.

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