10 Ways to Make Your School Annual Report Awesome
1) EMPHASIZE YOUR VISION THROUGHOUT
Your annual report is a snapshot of what your school has accomplished over the past year. Your vision is what drives your school and is what inspires people to support you. Faculty and student stories and results should demonstrate on different levels how you’re fulfilling that vision.
2) FOCUS ON ACCOMPLISHMENTS, NOT ACTIVITIES
What did you accomplish last year as a school? What goals did you set and were you able to meet them? Do you have data that can support the success of your efforts? Your report should be about the impact and results of your school. Don’t talk about internal stuff like getting high speed internet or new accounting software. Inspire donors with accomplishments related to your mission and leave all the administrative items for your report to your board.
3) SHARE STORIES
Share the stories of your school over the past year. Use the voices of your faculty and students. Storytelling is an art and you writing should be interesting to the readers. Show how your school is different from others in the stories that you tell.
4) USE INFOGRAPHICS
Infographics are the perfect storytelling tool. They often are used to demonstrate progress or point to future goals. What are the key metrics that highlight your success? Identify those statistics and develop infographics for them. Make sure they are clean and simple.
5) MAKE IT VISUAL
Make your Annual Report pleasing to the eye. Most people are visual learners. (think Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) Your annual report should not just be columns of data. It needs to be a clean balance between text and visuals. (photos, infographics, quotes, stories) Edit down your copy as much as possible and think about what you can say with visuals, not just words.
6) write CAPTIONS that tell your story
Now that you have great photos in your report, tell a story with your captions. Don’t just state what’s in the picture, tie the photo to an accomplishment. If people read nothing but the captions in your annual report, they should still get a sense for the good work you did last year.
7) IF YOU NEED MORE SPACE FOR VISUALS, TRIM THE DONOR LISTS
Schools need to strike a balance between using the space in their annual report to discuss their accomplishments and using it to recognize donors. If at least half of your annual report is donor lists, you should scale the lists back to make more room for visuals. Smaller donors can be recognized in other ways such as lists in newsletters.
8) CHECK YOUR DONOR LISTS CAREFULLY
There’s no better way to sabotage a future donation than to spell the donor’s name wrong in your annual report. If you are uncertain about a name, check with the donor. Also, carefully check the names of foundations that gave you grants. The names people call these organizations in conversation are often short-hand for the full names that belong in your annual report.
9) THANK EVERYONE
Recognize the people, inside and outside of your organization, who’ve contributed to your school’s success. Your annual report should encourage and inspire your audience to help move your school forward to new heights.
10) HAVE CLEAR CALLS TO ACTION
Never leave a potential supporter hanging, wondering how they can help you. Once you have inspired your readers with the great things your school has accomplished, conclude by telling them how they can help you do more. How can they support you with their money or time? Ask them to volunteer. Remind them of planned giving options. Tell them about gifts of stock. Steer them to use their credit card to donate. Be clear about the best ways to help.
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