10 Mistakes Nonprofits Make in Annual Reports


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Annual 10 mistakes nonprofits make when writing printed nonprofit annual reports.

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10 Mistakes Nonprofits Make in Annual Reports

  1. 10 Mistakes Nonprofits Make in Annual Reports Excerpt from the e-book How to Create a Nonprofit Annual Report by Kivi Leroux Miller Mistakes
  2. 1. Focusing on activities instead of accomplishments. Mistakes
  3. Donors need Not Just
  4. Donors want to know: • What were the results of what you did? • Why did you spend your time and money the way you did? • What difference did it make?
  5. 2. Discussing administrative minutiae. Mistakes
  6. “Yay! We finally have WiFi!” “And?”
  7. Inspire donors with accomplishments related to your mission. Leave administrative items for your board report.
  8. 3. Emphasizing fundraising accomplishments. Mistakes
  9. What’s more exciting? or
  10. Don’t put fundraising efforts on the same level as mission-related accomplishments. Donors expect you to raise money, but they want to hear about how you helped the world with it rather than how you raised it.
  11. 4. Printing dense blocks of text with no photos. Mistakes
  12. e libraries or even books become obsolete? One look at the Public Library a wer is clear: libraries have never been more important. The numbers speak mselves. In the last fiscal year, 1 million visitors came through the Library’s d her 3 million visited our website. Meanwhile, circulation and program atten ng records. Public high school students are borrowing books, and scholars a or research here. Job seekers continue to rely on our comprehensive resour ary Center and other locations. And our public computers were used for .6 m s in FY 2012, a 160% increase from five years ago. Together these facts und essential the Library is to so many. The report is succinct: “No other institu any different people in so many different ways.” However, even as use soar ary continues to face severe fiscal challenges. Over the past five years, City f Library has been steadily reduced, forcing us to find ways to continue servin ons amid declining resources, and making private support even more crucia mitted to vastly expanding free programs and educational initiatives in branches. In FY 2012, we increased the number of free events at NYPL to m 55,000, while we expanded the number of computer classes to nearly 7,70 ore than 350% increase over the year before. Welong; Didn’t Read 1,8 Too also offered more than L classes to help recent immigrants learn English. But we aim to do more. Ev after school, 3,000 kids come to our branches. We should be providing the
  13. Show what you’ve done with pictures
  14. 5. Leaving captions off your photos. Mistakes
  15. People will read this… Joe. Is he learning a new trade or robbing us blind with repairs we don’t need? …before they read this Joe, like many others we serve, came to the center in 2012 after losing his job at the local textile factory. With support from donors like you we were able to secure a position for him where he learned to be an automotive mechanic. He got a position at a garage earlier this year and is giving back to the center so others can have the same chance he did.
  16. Make Your Captions Count 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.
  17. 6. Leaving people out of the story. Mistakes
  18. Your annual report is not just a checklist of the things you have accomplished.
  19. Humanize your statistics with personal profiles. Highlight how your work helped a specific individual. Share a volunteer’s story of how he or she made a positive difference.
  20. 7. Printing financial statements with no explanation. Mistakes
  21. “Whaaaaat?” Many of your donors won’t know how to read a financial statement or won’t take the time to read it.
  22. Explain in Plain English: • Where does your money come from and how do you spend it? • What are your main fundraising strategies? • Did you implement any cost-savings measures this year?
  23. 8. Printing page after page of donor lists. Mistakes
  24. If half of your annual report is donor lists, you should cut the lists back to make more room for text and photos.
  25. Strike a balance between discussing your accomplishments and recognizing donors. Or, even better, get rid of the donor lists altogether and thank your donors in more meaningful ways.
  26. 9. Misspelling donor names. Mistakes
  27. “Jackie, Jacque…eh, what’s the difference?” While you would never be this brazen, it won’t matter to the donor if her name is misspelled.
  28. If you are uncertain about a donor’s name, don’t guess. Check with the donor. Use the full legal names of government agencies and foundations that gave you grants. (Or, like I said before, get rid of the donor lists altogether and thank your donors in more meaningful ways.)
  29. 10. Not telling donors how they can help. Mistakes
  30. “Hello? Is anyone there? Little help, please.” Never leave a potential supporter hanging, wondering how they can help you after you’ve inspired them with your annual report.
  31. Be clear about the best ways to help: • How can they support you with their money? • How can they support you with their time? • Do you offer planned giving options? • Can they donate with a credit card?
  32. Buy the full e-book, How to Create a Nonprofit Annual Report npmg.us/ar-ebook OR Get the e-book with the All-Access Pass along with all of our live webinars and other exclusive Pass Holder resources. npmg.us/pass
  33. For more resources on annual reports, visit: nonprofitmarketingguide.com/annualreports For examples of nonprofit annual reports and to add your report, visit our wiki: nonprofitannualreports.wikispaces.com