Aiming for a perfect annual report?

We’ve been designing and producing annual reports for ethical organisations, including many charities and housing associations for 21 years and we’ve learnt quite a lot on the way.

Here are our 21 tips for producing a perfect annual report.

1. Define your objectives

Understand what the Board and other stakeholders want and expect

2. Make someone in charge of organising and managing the project

This will ensure clear lines of communications

3. Plan well ahead of time

Set out a clear and realistic timeline

4. Know your target audience

Consider who they are and how they like to receive information

5. Make it accessible

Use the right font and give people the option to choose how they view it on-line

6. Have a clear structure

This will help you organise your content and messaging

7. Engage the right agency

Write a clear design brief

8. Share your budget

This will help your designers understand the scope of the project and what can be achieved

9. Tell a good story

Give your report a theme to help people follow your thinking

10. Hire professional copywriters

Ensure your editorial is consistent, has the right tone of voice and is engaging

11. Use impactful photographs

Bring your stories to life and show your impact

12. Highlight the highlights

Make the key points stand out. It will make the rest readable

13. New format and finishing

Same old design will convey the same old messages. Think about alternative formats – print, digital or mobile – change is good

14. Make your data sexier

Numbers don’t have to be boring

15. Less is more

This is key if you want your content to shine

16. Use direct quotes

People are far more likely to connect with first-hand stories

17. Look back and forward

Celebrate your achievements and outline what lies ahead

18. Use infographics

Tell your story and explain complex issues

19. Keep to your brand

Brand consistency is key for your Annual Report

20. Disclose the risks, issues and challenges

Don’t put a gloss over everything, if things are challenging, be honest and acknowledge this

21. Promote it

Post highlights on social media, have a link on your website, create an animation – make sure people know about it and talk about it.

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