Are you struggling with your organization’s annual report? Or maybe you want to create a template to make the process go smoother? Looking at strong annual report examples from other companies will help you understand how to write an annual report people will want to read.
A legal entity such as an S corporation must create an annual report. The report gives an overview of the organization’s mission, year-end highlights, financial information, and industry or project highlights. It must be filed with the business’s state government, usually via the secretary of state’s office.
In addition to compliance, annual reports play an important role in connecting with shareholders, investors, and the public. Moreover, a well-crafted annual report can serve as key reference material, a flagship content piece, and a source of inspiration for current and potential business partners.
What is an Annual Report?
An annual report is an official and comprehensive communication of a company’s activities, financial performance, achievements, and future projections over the previous year. It spells out the financial condition and operations for the year ended for shareholders and other stakeholders. It should be prepared so the general community can understand it and see if collaboration would be feasible.
Today, annual reports have evolved to also become marketing tools, especially for nonprofit organizations, who use them to impress donors, attract new ones, and showcase their brand to employees, clients, and the public.
For publicly traded companies like a limited liability company (LLC), producing an annual report and having a registered agent are required by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).
While it is entirely up to an organization to decide the amount of information to include in its annual report, some information must be included:
- General corporate information
- Financial and operation highlights
- A letter from the CEO to the shareholders
- Financial statements including balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements
- Management discussion and analysis of business performance over the years
- Key business changes, such as any acquisitions, adjustments to the operating agreement, etc.
- Notes to the financial statements
- Auditor’s report
- Performance and outlook for the future
As the annual report examples below show, you have a wealth of options for how to present this information. Data visualizations, for instance, can summarize pages of complex financial information in easy-to-understand charts and graphs.
Annual Report Examples
The following nonprofit annual report examples can act as a guide to creating your own. In addition to showing what information you can include, they also show different ways to make your annual report appealing, such as graphics, concise messaging, content titles, and narrative structure.
1. Navy SEAL Foundation
The Navy SEAL Foundation is dedicated to improving the health and welfare of Naval Special Warfare warriors, veterans, and families. Their 32-page annual report remains consistent and precise in communicating what they do. It brings the message to life with rich media and visualization that provides context and atmosphere.
Information in the report has an easy-to-follow structure. Key statistics are given just as much space as the headline, and impact is communicated using social proof. The foundation also recognizes its top supporters and partners that make their mission possible.
2. Charity Water
Charity Water’s nonprofit annual report communicates its message using limited copy, people-centered images, and data visualizations. The Charity Water report is concise, requiring approximately 10 minutes to read.
Content is carefully spread with clear headings and a structure that’s easy to scan. The report is also an excellent example of using graphics to make large amounts of data readable and entertaining. Charts and graphs communicate financial data and key statistics, making it easy for readers to digest the information and relate it to the organization’s impact.
For nonprofits, annual reports are a testament to all the funds received and the work the nonprofit organization has done throughout the year. Therefore, you need to create an annual report template like Charity Water’s that allows you to demonstrate precisely how you are transforming people’s lives with donor support.
3. Midwest Food Bank
Midwest Food Bank is a charity organization that aims to fight hunger and malnutrition. It links donors and nonprofit agencies by collecting donations and then redistributing food to pantries, churches, and similar nonprofits that feed the hungry.
Midwest Food Bank’s annual report restates its mission, shows proof of impact, and is simply designed for anyone to read. It covers all the details, from how their operations are modeled to the areas they serve and the people that help fulfill their objectives.
Its annual report not only shares the tremendous impact of their program, but also includes testimonials from beneficiaries and a letter from the CEO. Furthermore, it uses a combination of illustrations throughout, such as real-life images, animated icons, charts, and graphs, which make it easy to digest even complex bits of data.
4. The Humane Society
Committed to ending suffering for all animals, The Humane Society uses its annual report to provide detailed information on what the organization does to meet its mission. The report uses images and graphics to break up the text and visually engage readers. It also includes a message from the president.
5. American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund’s annual report stands out for its excellent use of imagery to bring the foundation’s message to life. Also, rather than stating its mission or a letter from the CEO at the start, it acknowledges and thanks its supporters and then states the impact they have made. Its 2021 annual report goes even further by mentioning all corporate partners, foundation partners, and individual partners that supported their mission with contributions.
OnBoard Powers Effective Nonprofits
Like with filing articles of incorporation vs. articles organization, nonprofits are not required to file annual reports. However, doing so gives nonprofits an advantage in fulfilling their missions, making the demanding process of preparing an annual report well worth the upside.
OnBoard’s board management software helps streamline critical board processes through robust document management and enhanced security and compliance features. Nonprofit board leaders can easily access and store valuable resources such as articles of incorporation, operating agreements, financial statements, and board meeting minutes using the platform. That makes projects such as preparing an annual report much easier with all resources in one place.
Simplify one of your most time-consuming tasks today with OnBoard’s free board meeting minutes template.
About The Author
- Gina Guy is an implementation consultant who specializes in working with nonprofit organizations get the most from their board meetings. She loves helping customers ease their workloads through their use of OnBoard. A Purdue University graduate, Gina enjoys refinishing furniture, running, kayaking, and traveling in her spare time. She lives in Monticello, Indiana, with her husband.
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