A nonprofit annual report helps donors see exactly how their contributions made an impact in a given year.
Did you know the top reason donors reconsider making a gift is that they do not clearly understand its impact?
Your annual report is your opportunity to tie donor contributions to your accomplishments. Grab everything you need below to package your year into a simple and compelling resource for your donors, board members, and the general public to reference when reflecting on the milestones you’ve achieved.
What Is a Nonprofit Annual Report?
Nonprofit annual reports give a thorough account of what you’ve accomplished in one year’s time with the support of your donors. The reports typically include visuals that bring data, stories, and milestones to life in a way that’s appealing and digestible to read.
Unlike a Form 990, which is required for any tax-exempt organization as an annual information return or notice with the IRS, an annual report is an optional resource nonprofits can create and share with their community to remain fully transparent, celebrate their successes, and express gratitude for their supporters.
Purposes of a Nonprofit Annual Report
- Emphasize your organization’s mission statement
- Express gratitude for your supporters and partners
- Showcase your organization’s most successful initiatives
- Deliver financial transparency with detailed reports
- Demonstrate a clear impact
- Look ahead to the coming year
What Should a Nonprofit Annual Report Include?
Nonprofit annual reports should serve as a high-level overview of relevant information for your donors and the larger community to reference at the end of each year.
Modern nonprofits often opt for a less-is-more approach to avoid overwhelming their readers, while still delivering concrete data and qualitative insights that leave a memorable impression.
Contents of a Nonprofit Annual Report
- Financial data
- Impact stories
- Mission statements
- Donor spotlights (e.g. major donors, recurring donors, etc.)
Get creative about engaging donors with your annual report. Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start. Below we’ve outlined a template you can use to create something you’re proud of.
Simple Steps to Create Your Nonprofit Annual Report Template
Step 1: Choose the Right Format for Your Nonprofit Annual Report
The format of your report will depend on your organization’s size and bandwidth. It may be a straightforward PDF one-sheeter of essential information that donors can download and print. You could also bring it to life as an interactive page on your website that you update throughout the year.
Digital formats increase the likelihood that supporters will discover and engage with your content. If you have donors who prefer direct mailers, consider sending them a postcard with a QR code to the full online report.
Explore the benefits below of offering both options to appease all supporters.
Benefits of a One-Page PDF Annual Report
- Deliver through email or social media with ease
- Can be printed and referred back to
- Convert into an image for social sharing in minutes
- Link to in-depth web pages that support your data
Benefits of an Annual Report Website
- Provide an easily-accessible live experience
- Tell a story with engaging visuals
- Download with ease as a PDF from the site
- Represent your brand with a cohesive, streamlined design
Step 2: Include the Right Content
Get started with your nonprofit annual report by including these top 10 elements. Use these as a guide as you build a template for the first time or enhance your existing template to delight donors.
- Your mission, goals, philosophies, and beliefs
- An executive summary of annual accomplishments
- A letter from your nonprofit board, directors, or leadership
- Strong numbers to show your programmatic impact
- Impactful imagery and video
- Statement of financials & activities
- A list of major donors, advocates, partners, or sponsors
- A special thank you to donors and supporters
- Awards, grants, loans, and donations received
- Future outlook, long-term goals, and what’s ahead
Nonprofit Annual Report Examples We Love
This interactive site highlights a memorable year for Girls Who Code. Enticing call-to-action visuals invite you to scroll down the page. Animations in a snapshot view reveal more information as you hover over certain elements with your mouse. The concise format allows readers to visit what interests them, and grasp the full picture of how donations translate to results.
RAICES takes the PDF approach in this standout work of art. Right from the start, the report invites you in. Simple colors and compelling imagery clearly communicate the impact of RAICES and its donors. Supporters can learn exactly how they move the RAICES mission forward, with the information broken out by specific programs and campaigns held during the year. It’s hard not to walk away with a new level of connection to their work.
The San Diego Foundation took its 2021 annual report to the next level. Their web page uses powerful imagery to tell the stories of the people affected by their work. Animations help readers follow along on the journey and their links to relevant videos help visitors learn about any topic of interest.
Readers see a donate button up top at all times while moving through the report. Whether it’s the first time that person is hearing about the San Diego Foundation’s work or they’ve been supporting it for years, there’s a clear connection to why donations matter and how contributions will continue to impact lives in the future.
Ready to Get Started on Your Nonprofit Annual Report?
Take advantage of the opportunity to get your impact in front of potential donors, corporate partners, and any others interested in your nonprofit. Remember, you spent all year doing the hard work. Now, it’s about how to showcase that to the masses and build momentum for another impactful year ahead.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out Classy’s first annual Impact Report.