A while back, the Salvation Army discovered that about half of the 28,800 printed annual reports it sent to its field offices each year were going unopened. And although the Salvation Army has since made changes and introduced an interactive digital report, it raises the question: how many other organisations’ annual reports are also going unnoticed? Perhaps part of the problem is that putting together an annual report can often be a challenge for community-focused organisations, which are already incredibly busy delivering their core services and managing a stretched budget. As a result, there’s little consideration put into planning and producing an effective annual report. However, an annual report can be beautiful, inspiring and energising – and have long-lasting value and uses well beyond annual-report season. Here, we share some of our top tips for getting more out of your annual report.
Recently, we were presenting to a group of secondary-school students about the importance of communications. We explained how all too often, people tend to focus on the mechanics of an idea and pay less attention to telling people about its benefits. Communicating ineffectively is a bit like organising a party but not inviting any guests – the process and planning is important, but unless you inform people, no one will come. Effective communications are particularly vital for social enterprises, not-for-profits, community services and non-government organisations. These groups often work incredibly hard and produce great services with very little resources. However, they don’t always know how to effectively connect with the people they need to reach. So like the party with no guests, the potential social impact may not be achieved.