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Tips & Tools for Creating a Compelling Annual Report

Tips & Tools for Creating a Compelling Annual Report


As the year comes to a close, it’s time for your organization to start brainstorming about ways to communicate your past year’s achievements in your annual report.  This is no easy feat! Make the time and effort that goes into aggregating accurate data and creating an engaging and succinct narrative worthwhile by using dynamic visuals that will connect with your audience.
Take a fresh approach. Before defaulting to the same traditional format you’ve been using forever, consider this fact: the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words; most people prefer images and charts to reading a full text-heavy report. When it comes to quick, clear communication, visuals trump text almost every time. To illustrate:

circle - visual and text.png

This year revamp your report using compelling visual storytelling, and always keep the reader’s experience at the forefront of your mind. The end result is a powerful tool that demonstrates your accomplishments, and captivates, inspires and triggers your readers to take action.
Reeling from a busy holiday season and year-end fundraising, attempting a new format for what is already a daunting process may seem overwhelming, but don’t fret! There are easily accessible free and user friendly online tools for creating visual content. Seize the moment and use this as an opportunity to explore new tools that will assist you with creating graphics that will complement your messaging going forward!

Helpful Tips

Stay focused!

Don’t lose track of the narrative. You’re not just reporting, you’re telling a story, and the numbers are not just data, they are elements of impact that drive the story. Every element should play a role in strengthening the story you are trying to tell.

Example: Charity Water 2013 Annual Report

Be dynamic!

Break down your text with eye-catching charts , graphics and images 

Example: Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center 2015 Annual report

The devil is in the details!

Segment the report with thoughtfully designed color scheme.

Healthy Families/Thriving Communities 2012 Annual Report

Make it personal!

Show the faces of those you’ve served, and display the projects you’ve completed. 

Example: ONE 2015 Annual Report

Free Online Tools and Resources

Best all around tool for just about any design task:

Built with non-designers in mind, Canva is a free and easy to use web design tool that has a template for any design task you can think of including social media graphics, brochures, invitations, presentations, infographics, etc. It has huge library of images, icons, fonts and features to choose from. 

Best for creating infographics:

Free infographic tools that offer free customizable templates to start you off.

Best for creating graphs and charts:

Infogr.am is a great free tool which offers access to a wide variety of graphs, charts and maps. You simply, pick a chart/graph format, upload your data/ excel spread sheet and voila. 

Best for beautiful free high res photos:

Unsplash has beautiful high resolution images that you can legally share, use, and modify. They don’t require credit to be given, but they encourage it if possible. 

Over to you

What tips or tools would you add to these lists? 

What helpful design and content changes have you incorporated into your annual report? Do you plan on taking steps to make your annual report more visually compelling? If so, what will you be doing differently?

 Let’s me know in the comments below!

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