The traditional annual report includes the elements discussed in previous blog posts in a printed brochure format of, on average, four to twelve pages. But, the way we receive information is changing, and annual reports are being produced in new ways. Here are some of the new annual report formats that are becoming more popular:
Online Annual Reports
For those that cannot forego their traditional annual report format, you may be interested to know that organizations are starting to design their annual reports as usual and then posting them as a PDF or PowerPoint online. Think creatively with this option, as PDF and PPT formats can include links to websites – so you can reduce the size of your annual report and then include a link to the “full version” on your website.
There are other options like Issuu which will take your annual report art and display it in a magazine format where the pages appear to flip.
The downside to this option is that you are not placing a hard copy of the annual report in your recipient’s hands. You need to draw them to your website and rely on them to open and view the report.
Smaller Printed Pieces
If you want to continue printing a hard copy of the report, consider reducing the size to a two-, four- or six-page format. You will still be able to include the key elements of the report, but reduce your printing and mailing costs.
The downside to this option is that you will need to be ruthless in selecting and editing your copy for these downsized options. Conveying the same message in fewer words is a harder task for the writer. Trim accomplishments back and provide bulleted lists. Provide links to your website for complete donor lists, etc. Clean graphics are important to support the message and financial pie charts are a must.
The upside to this option is that everyone is busier and inundated with information. A reduced-sized annual report may get read over the 24-page booklet.
Video Annual Reports
This approach is really like producing a short documentary of about 4-5 minutes. There is no better way to tug at heart-strings than with video, so including client testimonials and case studies provide the foundation to a video annual report.
Statistical information can still be included in an active, graphical way
The downside to a video annual report is the cost. You will probably shoot 60 minutes or more of footage that needs to be edited down to a few minutes. And, video production is typically more expensive than graphic design. Finally, you still need to draw people to the video online.
The upside is the emotional connection that can be made with video. And, you can use the video in other ways – you can take the video to community groups, you can edit shorter pieces and post on Facebook or link to eblasts and then link to your website.
Visualize the large post cards that you get during political campaign season – generally 11” wide by 6” tall. You can get a lot of information on that size postcard if you really try. But, you REALLY have to focus on the key message points, work with bulleted highlights, add a testimonial and send people to your website for the details. Even if they don’t take the time to go to your website, they still get a sense of your accomplishments.
If your website is already setup in a format that you can easily edit, this can be a very cost effective way to publish your information. It can be a mini-site with its own domain or a page within your existing site. You can still use the copy you might develop for a printed piece, combined with photos to tell the story of your accomplishments. But you can also include video links, interactive chats, audio links, downloaded documents and a direct link to a donate button!
Many thanks to the writings of Kiki Leroux Miller, that helped with the development of this article series.
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net