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Old-style annual reports are becoming a thing of the past, and good riddance to them. Traditional reports included a greeting from the chairman, a look at the past year's financials, a list of activities that happened during the year and a longer list of donors. It was expensive, it sat on the shelf, and, if anyone did read the annual report, it was a great cure for insomnia. What a wasted opportunity!

Today, annual reports may be online or a multi-fold pamphlet. They can even be "living documents" that are updated every month. The format is less important that the message it sends. Annual reports should communicate your:

  • Impact - How did you serve your community?

  • Gratitude - This is your chance to talk directly to your donors and volunteers and tell them how much you appreciate them.

  • Stories - If you helped change a life, improved the environment, or protected a car or dog, this is the place to describe it. It is also your best opportunity to spotlight that volunteer who went above and beyond.

  • Vision of the future - The biggest problem with traditional annual reports is they are a look in the rear view mirror. People want to know where you are going as much as they want to know where you've been!

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