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What to Include in a Nonprofit Annual Report: Your Ultimate 2023 Guide

Uncover the key elements to include in your 2023 nonprofit annual report. From financial summaries to mission-driven success stories, this guide ensures your report is comprehensive, transparent, and compelling, bolstering trust and support in your organization.

Every year, your non-profit organization has a unique opportunity to bolster its authority, confidence, and trust within the community. You can accomplish this by crafting a clear, comprehensive, and powerful annual report.

While a nonprofit annual report isn't mandatory by law, taking a moment to transparently showcase your accomplishments and clearly articulate where your organization is headed next can result in renewed support, partnerships, and donor contributions.

In this blog, we'll break down the critical elements your nonprofit annual report needs to make a mark in the community and keep stakeholders in the loop.

Group of five people standing around a small table, where one woman is presenting her work.

What is a Nonprofit Annual Report?

An annual report is a formal document that summarizes key facts about non-profit organizations, including noteworthy accomplishments and goals over the year. Many nonprofit annual reports also project goals for the future and survey how the past year’s performance influences what the organization expects to do next. 

Within an annual report, you can highlight your core vision, mission, and biggest achievements over the last year by using professional and visually appealing elements and design.

Annual reports clarify purpose and vision and showcase how an organization stays true to its core values during a busy year of activities. Whether printed or paperless, many individuals take time to review annual reports, so it’s important to get them right. Because annual reports help to hold your organization accountable, creating powerful content and an efficient is vital.

Elements to Include in Your Annual Report

It may seem like there’s a lot on the line when creating and presenting your nonprofit annual report, and in some cases, there is. If you’ve had a busy year of growth, or if you’ve reached significant milestones within the community, you should communicate those details effectively.

When you have the right elements in your annual reporting structure, you don’t have to worry about missing the mark. At Acton Circle, we’ve collaborated with many nonprofits and cause-focused brands to highlight the right facts and figures in an annual report. Here’s what we’ve identified as most important.

Powerful Content

Your annual report should always include:

  • A clear vision and mission statement – Make this information prominent and at the forefront of your report. These details are beneficial for reminding both internal and external players what your organization does and stands for. You can also recap which values drive major activities throughout the year. 
  • Major achievements last year –  Briefly recap all events, initiatives, goals, and targets. Where possible, illustrate strong numbers in the areas where your organization excelled. Think about the events you hosted, number of individuals you supported, or how much your internal team grew in size or scope.
  • A transparent financial statement – Many nonprofits use their official tax statements to clearly show earnings and revenue. While these numbers are a great place to start, incorporating them into your annual report should be done in an engaging way. Use your report to provide additional context for the numbers on your official financial statements. 
  • Your donor’s contributions – Donor contributions are another element to highlight in every annual report. This factor isn’t just about showing who gave the most money. Instead, this section should focus on how you put donations to work within your non-profit organization.
Person's tattooed arm holding a sheet of paper with a graph on it.

Roadmap for the Future

Based on the events of the year, growing non-profit organizations should be able to forecast where they want to go in the future. Your donors and stakeholders might also be curious about how you expect to continue scaling or how you plan to correct issues that hindered growth.

Although the bulk of your report should be devoted to major details over the past year, communicate to your stakeholders what you’ve learned and how you’ll apply those findings to the future of your organization.

The Correct Format

Once you have the right elements in your reporting structure, you’ll have to decide how you want to format the report for distribution. The decision on whether to print hard copies or publish digitally often comes down to factors like budget, efficiency, and resources.

  • Hard copy reports – Hard copy versions might be helpful for non-profit organizations that distribute their reports in person (such as during stakeholder meetings) or at conferences. If you have concerns about printed resources, consider making a shortened annual report with expanded materials available online.
  • Digital reports – Many non-profit organizations are making the choice to go paperless with annual reports. This is especially true if the group wants to cut down on paper materials. A fully digital experience, such as a microsite, might expand the possibilities when it comes to graphic elements, photographs, charts, animations, and other color visuals, since you aren’t restricted by printing considerations.  
Woman presenting revenue charts to her colleagues.

Get Expert Annual Report Design Help

An annual report does more for your organization than you can imagine. In order to drive support and boost awareness, you should prioritize your report’s primary elements and its overall design. 

Are you eager to create a powerful annual report that elevates your organizations and clearly informs key players about your biggest accomplishments? If so, it’s time to partner with a design team that understands your vision and helps you increase your impact. 

Connect with the team at Acton Circle today!


February 3, 2023