When I worked in the nonprofit world, I spent at least three months a year plotting out the annual report and ensuring we had relevant photos, content and interesting stories to share with our patrons when it came time for the annual giving campaign. Often, a majority of the annual development marketing budget went into this publication because nonprofits use annual reports to share the story of their impact and provide accountability and transparency on where donors’ gifts are being invested.
I know gathering all of that information can be a daunting task many development and marketing directors dread, because before I started working for Hello Amigo, I was a client, too. Though I would write the content and gather photos and financials for the publication, I turned to Hello Amigo to lay out the information and create a beautiful design.
This experience has allowed me to better help our clients when it comes to project planning a large publication such as an annual report. Here are some tips I have for nonprofits when planning your annual report publications.
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 a software like these allows you to collaborate with any co-workers you need content or feedback from, and the agency you are working with. For example if your folder name is “Letter from the Executive Director,” in this folder you would place their photo and a Word document of the copy that goes along with this page. Do not worry about layout, your design team will take care of that.
Another rule of thumb is to have copy in its final draft prior to providing it to your design team. This makes the editing process easier and more efficient, plus it makes the design process faster since the design team will know how much copy/content they are working with.
Photos are wonderful assets to use in telling 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 try to save the images directly from the website. They have likely been compressed for web use and will be fuzzy or grainy if you print them.
While it can be difficult to determine the exact cost of production until your report information is laid out in a design, knowing your publication budget will help your design team to decide what printing process and paper type to use to make sure your publication stands out. Once the publication design draft is nearing its final version, it is safe to get a second printing quote, as you should know exactly how many pages your publication is going to be.
Have more than two people on your team 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 want 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? If you can, register your nonprofit with a unique permit so you can save on mailing.
When the annual report is completed, you can always 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, something to leave behind with a donor when asking for a major gift or even included with grant applications as proof of the good work you do.
When you start preparing your next annual report, consider hiring Hello Amigo as your annual report guides and we’ll help you create the best publication your organization has ever seen. We also build unique microsites to compliment printed annual reports and drive more donors to nonprofit websites to explore all that each nonprofit does.
Below are examples of reports we have created for of our clients.
See what success looks like.