3 Keys to Your Best-Ever Annual Report

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Annual report season? Don't sweat it.

With Thanksgiving now a fading memory, we’re heading into the home-stretch of another year. 

For many among us, that means annual report season is about to get into full swing. Depending on your past experience, that prospect can either fire you up or reduce you to a puddle of sweat. 

No doubt, the annual report process can be stressful. Yet with the right approach, you can limit the angst and reap the many benefits of creating a solid and engaging report. 

Annual reports offer a great opportunity for your organization’s leadership to communicate with depth and context to key audiences. And while annual reports recap the results and accomplishments of the past year, they can also lay out the vision for the future and set the tone for the coming year.

We've found there are three keys to creating a great annual report while keeping stress to a minimum.  Here they are:

Start now: The time is here to start laying the groundwork for a great report. Top of the to-do list is establishing an execution plan and timeline that will allow you to tell your story in most compelling ways possible. Getting early buy-in and lining up the right resources can help assure you're well positioned to start building your report once you close the books on 2018.

Identify your secret sauce: What set you apart in 2018? What drove your strongest performance, and put you on the right track to future success? Every successful organization has niche strengths and key characteristics at the core of its success story. Take the time to define your secret sauce. Then find interesting ways to highlight it through relevant customer, donor, volunteer, client, or employee stories. 

Create a post-publication plan: Too many organizations publish their annual reports and then simply move on. That's leaving a lot of value on the table. Your annual report can serve to set the tone for the year ahead.  My blog post, 5 Easy Ways to Leverage Your Annual Report highlights some of our suggestions for getting more mileage out of your annual report all year long.

2018 will be over before we know it.

Creating an action plan now will give you the best opportunity to effectively tell your story of the year that was – while also laying out your vision to make the most of the one to come. 

Want to get moving? Connect with me to brainstorm -- or to get some inspiring examples to help get you started.