Essential Components of an Annual Report

February 10, 2015

Last fall, as I began the process of gathering information for Grafton’s 2014 annual report, I found myself reflecting on finding a balance between reporting on the organization’s highlights and accomplishments and information overload. How will I draft a report that will resonate with our stakeholders? Will folks be interested in what is included? Will they read it? Can I tell a compelling story about the impact of our work?

So, where do you start and how do you decide what to include in an annual report? I started with creating a theme, “Impacting the World.” The report would support the theme with messages, images, quotes, and stories.

Next, I drafted an outline that included objectives, target audience(s), and the following six essential elements that would constitute the report:

  1. Accomplishments: What were the key highlights and results for the year? What differences did we make as an organization? How many lives did we touch? How have we made the world a better place because of our work?
  2. Stories:  Highlight a few powerful stories about the impact of our work. Include a testimonial or two from a parent or key stakeholder.
  3. Partnerships: List our strategic partnerships with other organizations. We recognize that one of our greatest organizational strengths resides in value-added relationships with others.
  4. Financials: Describe the economic impact of the organization and include revenue, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
  5. Donors/Acknowledgements. Include a note to supporters acknowledging how important they are to the organization’s success.
  6. Call to Action. Use this section to let others know how they can help or support your organization.

Every organization has a compelling story to tell. The annual report represents a great opportunity to communicate an organization’s story directly with stakeholders.

Here are some additional guidelines that may be helpful in assembling future reports:

  • Write stories that are compelling and relate to the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Focus on results and activities that relate to the mission.
  • Use a conversational tone.
  • Use eye catching graphics, subheadings, and photos to break up text and white space.

We welcome your feedback on Grafton’s 2014 annual report.


Click here to view Grafton’s 2014 annual report

Please send your thoughts and impressions to