Use your Annual Report as a Fundraising Tool

Use your Annual Report as a Fundraising Tool

6 Key Steps to Creating Your Best One Yet

 

Your nonprofit’s annual report is more than just a legal document; it’s a fundraising tool. Creating one that captivates your donors can be one of the most important fundraising moves you make all year. An effective annual report powerfully illustrates the critical value of your mission, and the tangible impact of donor support. The best annual reports take considerable planning and preparation, so we’ve laid the groundwork for you: within the following pages are the six key strategies to creating your nonprofit’s most successful annual report yet.

1. Determine Your Schedule & Budget

TIMING

  • When do you want your annual report to be published? Once you’ve chosen a date, use this chart to help you determine a project start date. Remember to be realistic with your timing; take busy schedules into account, as well as the time you may need to search for and hire a professional designer.

 

MM_6steps_4-15-2

 

 

BUDGET

  • Hire a professional. Yes, there’s an upfront cost to bringing in the experts, but an experienced designer can put together a beautiful document in a fraction of the time it takes to teach staff to do it—thereby using fewer resources. Depending on the length of your report and the design team’s level of expertise, the budget for designing an annual report can range from R50 000 – R250 000. Determine your project needs and then shop around to find a firm that’s right for you. Creating an RFP is the best way to receive proposals that you can easily compare.
  • Determine your distribution rate. Are you a large, national non-profit with a large number of donors? Or are you a smaller organization reliant on volunteers? Do you distribute the report to all donors—or just those you would consider major donors? The more printed annual reports you distribute, the more you’ll spend.

 

MM_6steps_4-15-3

 

2. Write a Creative Brief

A CREATIVE BRIEF is your guide for the creative process. It answers the questions that are important to making sure your report is a success:

  • What are the goals for the report? What conclusions do you want your reader to draw? What actions do you want her to take? These goals will help you figure out how to lead
    your reader through the report.
  • Who’s your audience? Draw character sketches. Imagine your current and potential donors, and try to determine their common traits, tastes, styles, and most importantly, what it is about your work that inspires them to invest in it. Your answers will inform the voice and style of the report’s content.
  • What “look and feel” of the report will help reflect your organization’s personality? If your organization was a person, how would you characterize them? Warm and friendly? Or innovative and wacky? Determine the traits that you want the annual report to demonstrate. This will help your writers and designers tremendously in the early rounds of the creative process.

 

MM_6steps_4-15-4

 

3. Pick Your Format: Printed, or Electronic?

  • Remember your AUDIENCE. What is more appropriate for them? Would your particular supporters prefer receiving a tangible, printed report from you in their mailbox, or an e-mail announcement with a link to an online electronic report?

 

MM_6steps_4-15-5

 

 

4. Gather the Pieces

What should your annual report include? Here are the BASICS:

  • Your logo
  • One letter from either the Executive Director, CEO, or Board Chair
  • A brief overview of why you do the work you do and what differentiates your organization
  • Stories that showcase the real impact your organization made in the past year
  • Irresistible photos
  • Challenges you’ll be addressing in the near future
  • List of donors
  • Financial report
  • Contact information
  • Remit device to encourage new or additional donations

 

MM_6steps_4-15-6

 

5. Write and Develop Content

  • Tell your organization’s STORY. Though they may be familiar with your mission statement, your donors may very well lack a deeper understanding of the unique problems your organization exists to solve. Remind them of your critical value to the community. Speak to their minds and hearts.
  • Report on your RESULTS, not your process. Talk about the specific individuals thatwere positively affected by your programs. Show your donors that your work is making a real, tangible difference.
  • Choose powerful PHOTOS. Your annual report should be filled with photos that are up-close, colorful, and active. These photos should depict your mission in action.
  • What’s more compelling: a picture of your smiling constituents benefitting from your services, or a group photo of your smiling donors at a fundraising function? The former, of course!

 

MM_6steps_4-15-7

 

6. Use Principles of Good Design

  • White space is key. Having enough “white space”, or open space, is a simple design strategy to avoid overloading your reader’s attention. Effective use of white space will help draw the reader’s eyes to the most important written and visual information.
  • Limit your typeface selection. We know—there are thousands of beautiful fonts out there that you’d love to incorporate into your annual report. Choose carefully. Too many typefaces result in a loud, busy aesthetic that makes reading difficult, and could lose your audience’s attention.
  • Make your report visually consistent with other marketing materials. Though each annual report should be a stand-alone piece, the color, type, and imagery of each report should instantly communicate the look and feel of your organization’s brand. Is the annual report harmonious with your logo, letterhead, newsletters, and website?
  • Pass what we like to call the “I’m too busy to read” test. A passing grade means that even if your reader only takes 15 seconds to leaf through the annual report, they will have absorbed a general understanding of the work you do-and gained a positive impression of your organization as a whole.

 

NEXT STEPS

You’ve set your schedule, written your creative brief, gathered your materials, written the content, and started the design process. Believe us, the end product is worth it. When distributing your nonprofit’s annual report amongst your donors and volunteers, you’re handing them a chapter of your organization’s story—one that will reinvigorate their commitment to your mission, and their excitement to be engaged with your work.

6 Undeniable reasons why your website should be responsive

6 Undeniable reasons why your website should be responsive

Written by Luke Summerfield 
This post originally appeared on Inbound Insiders, a new section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Inbound Insiders.

 

 

It’s probably no surprise by now that mobile internet usage has been skyrocketing over the last few years. According to a Morgan Stanley report, mobile internet usage is expected to match desktop usage by 2014. Even with this compelling evidence, the vast majority of business websites are still not mobile-friendly. This is not only causing a headache for users, but also a loss in business opportunity.
In this post, we explain why having a responsive website is so critical to your marketing as well as some key considerations to keep in mind when designing a responsive website. 

What’s the difference between mobile and responsive design?

There are two major methods for creating mobile websites: responsive design and mobile templates.
Responsive design requires you only have one website that is coded to adapt to all screen sizes, no matter what the device the website’s being displayed on.
In contrast, a mobile template is a completely separate entity requiring you to have a second, mobile-only website or subdomain. Mobile templates are also built for each specific site, not per screen size. This can cause some issues, as we will discuss below.
Responsive design, a term originally coined in a 2010 A List Apart article by Ethan Marcotte, has been by far the most popular and widely used method for designing a mobile website.
Here are some of the undeniable reasons your website needs to be responsive.

1) Mobile usage is exploding.

This might not be a surprise for most of you, yet despite the impressive statistics below, many businesses do not yet have a mobile website. Hopefully, reading through these stats from Smart Insights will light a fire to stop ignoring the need for a mobile website.
  • Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device.
  • In 2012, more than half of local searches were performed on a mobile device.
  • In the United States, 25% of internet users only access the internet on a mobile device.
  • 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience.
  • 25.85% of all emails are opened on mobile phones, and 10.16% are opened on tablets.

2) Positive user experience is a must.

According to Google’s Think Insights on mobile, if a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately and go to another website (most likely a competitor). It’s also said that if they have a positive experience with your mobile website, a user is 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service.

3) Blogging and social activities bring mobile visitors.

If you’re like most inbound marketers and have elements of blogging and social media incorporated in your strategy, you probably have been seeing increased mobile traffic. A recent study by ComScore cites that 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device.
With that being said, if you’re sharing out content links or links to your website and don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you’re not only going to experience high bounce rates and low conversion rates, but also a frustrated audience.

4) Responsive design is preferred for SEO.

In June 2012, at SMX Advanced, Google’s Pierre Farr went on the record to declare that Google prefers responsive web design over mobile templates. Having one single URL makes it easier for Google bot to crawl your site as well as reduces the chance of on-page SEO errors. For these reasons, responsive sites typically perform better and are easier to maintain than a separate, mobile-template site.

5) A speedy responsive website is key.

According to the Google PageSpeed Developers, standards recommends that the content above the fold on a mobile device loads in under 1 second and the entire page loads in under 2 seconds. This is typically not possible when loading a desktop website on a mobile device. When a user has to wait too long for a page to load, there’s an extremely high chance they will leave your site.
Curious about how well your current website is performing on a mobile device? Google Developers has this nifty little tool to check your mobile site’s speed.

6) Responsive adapts to future devices.

One of the big benefits of responsive design is that the size of the template is designed based on screen size, not device. This means that no matter what size screen someone is viewing your website, it will display properly for that screen size.
So, in the future, as new devices (TVs, watches, glasses, etc.) are being used for web browsing, your responsive site will still look beautiful.

Moving forward, it will be extremely critical that your website provides mobile users an easy-to-use experience. Having a mobile website is no longer simply a nice feature — rather, it is now a necessity and literally impacts the growth of your business.