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Creating a Great Nonprofit Annual Report

Nonprofit annual reports are a fantastic way of showcasing the great work you've done throughout the year. They can be used to show supporters how you have used their money and to demonstrate the value of your work to prospective donors. They can also be a helpful opportunity to celebrate everything you've achieved. Seeing the number of meals you've provided, new members you've acquired, or people you've helped can provide a lot of motivation for staff and volunteers.

drawing of a man sitting at a computer desk and looking at statistical material

Additionally, if you create an annual report every year, you can begin to compare the statistics of each report with one another and see the growth of your organization over time. You'll also build trust with your supporters by showing transparency around the money you raise and what you do with it.

Finally, these reports are an opportunity to show appreciation for the people who give money to your organization. If they are open to it, you might name some of the foundations or individuals who gave significant amounts that year.

What Should an Annual Report Include?

You should absolutely tailor your report to your audience and the work you do. However, keep in mind that there are certain elements that are generally useful to include.

The Heart of Your Organization

First off, include a statement from your leadership team, CEO, or executive director. This should give an overview of what is to come in the rest of the report, but focus primarily on the impact of the organization, the challenges faced in that year, and how you have overcome them.

You should also include your organization's mission statement, an overview of what you do, and some major achievements from the past year. Someone who has never encountered your organization before should get a sense of what your organization is about and how you're making a difference. Examples and photos of your recent achievements can help to further illustrate your impact, and it's a great way to look back and celebrate the past year.

As well as achievements, you should tell some personal stories from those you have helped. If you can gather quotes from beneficiaries and photos of the work you do, it will help to build a more effective picture of how your work makes a difference.

Your Year in Numbers

Your annual report is a great opportunity to demonstrate transparency in your organization, as well as highlight recent achievements.

First, include some key numbers that show the impact of your work. If you run a help line, list the number of calls you took this year. An animal shelter might list the number of animals taken off the streets or how many successful adoptions it has participated in. An environmental activism organization might give a count of the number of people who attended events or training courses or who signed a petition to affect policy.

You can also show financial statistics such as operating budget. Show how much you raised and demonstrate how you used this money, as well as your plan for the coming year. This shows current and potential donors that you will handle their money responsibly and empowers them to be informed about how their gift will be used.


Acknowledge your major donors, whether they are individuals, foundations, or businesses. This helps to build great relationships with your funders, making them feel good about continuing to support you. Aside from anything else, it's a great opportunity to thank those who help sustain your organization.

Create and Share

You don't need to be a graphic designer to build a beautiful report, and there are plenty of tools out there that make it even easier. Something as simple as a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation gives you all the features you need to show off your report. Alternatively, Yearly is a purpose-built platform for creating these kinds of reports, and it is available at a discount to nonprofits through TechSoup. It helps you to present your information in engaging ways while using your own branding and embedding the report straight into your website.


Get Started with Your Nonprofit's Annual Report

Pulling together a report like this can be daunting, but once you've decided on the information to include, creating something informative and engaging might be easier than you think. Use the information you already have, gather great stories from the past year, and find a tool that helps you present it in its very best light.

Additional Resources

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