Latest trends for nonprofit annual reports in 2023
Here are some trends to keep in mind as you think about your organization’s next annual report.
1. Develop a narrative theme
The best nonprofit annual reports have a narrative theme that separates the report from previous years and serves as a messaging thread. This brief statement is typically highlighted on the cover of the report and used as a way to introduce other content.
For example, in this annual report we created for The Fresh Air Fund, we developed a narrative theme titled Imagine the Possibilities. This theme first comes to life on the cover, introducing the report with a burst of energy. Later, the possibilities (e.g. “Where I explored nature from my apartment”) connect to this larger theme.
2. Lead with impact
Impact is often relegated to the later pages of a nonprofit annual report, but that doesn’t have to be the case! No matter the length of your report, many readers will inevitably skim the content, so featuring punchy impact numbers upfront is essential.
In that same annual report for The Fresh Air Fund, we used the first full spread to pair eye-grabbing impact statistics with playful photography and graphics.
3. Rethink your letters
For some time, the standard practice has been to feature multiple lengthy letters from senior members of your team. These days, we’ve been designing more and more annual reports where the letters are shorter and include multiple authors.
For example, in this annual report we designed for United Church Funds, a brief co-authored letter appears on page 3. In this case, we also provided a call-out testimonial for those readers who are more interested in a quick read than a deep dive.
4. Go digital
More and more these days, printed annual reports have digital counterparts. In the case of The Fresh Air Fund annual report we spotlighted above, we designed and built out a page on their website that spotlighted key annual report content while adding a healthy dose of movement and interactivity.
QR codes are a handy way to transport readers of your printed report to action-oriented pages of your website. For example, in this annual report we created for Big Brother Big Sisters of New York, we included a QR code on the final spread that brought readers to their Get Involved page.
As the scales continue to tilt toward digital, we’ve been creating shorter printed pieces (like this one for Guttmacher Institute) and used the digital real estate to include more content (view Guttmacher’s corresponding digital report here).
For more on this trend toward digital, along with additional examples of digital annual reports, check out our Belief titled Go Digital With Your Nonprofit Annual Report.
If you want a hand with your next nonprofit annual report – be it printed, digital or both – we’d love to help out! Feel free to reach out to us.