5 Tips to Creating An Outline For Your Annual Report


It’s that time of year again: annual report time! Your organization is probably hunkering down and creating a comprehensive guide to what you’ve been up to the past year. Annual reports are important for communicating with your stakeholders, keeping your donors ‘in the know’ about what you have been able to accomplish with donations and an outreach vehicle for new funding.


It can seem daunting having to pull together so much content in what will end up being about twenty pages or less. However, you can make that work much simpler by creating an outline. Here are some tips on how to get started doing this:


  1. Decide your format. First, you need to decide if your annual report will be formatted as traditional, brief, or only to be housed online. Deciding this will also decide how long your annual report will be. Keep in mind how much content you want to write or edit.
  • Long form/traditional annual report: 20 pages
  • Brief annual report: 12 pages
  • Online annual report: 1-3 pages


  1. Create content categories. You’ll want to begin your outline by determining what to include in your report. Most reports include a leadership letter that serves as a introduciton. Will you include profiles or stories or just cover the year in statistics and photos along with a donor list?


Here is a list of some possible content:

  • Leadership Letter
  • Yearly Statistics
  • Stories (1-4)
  • Donor List
  • Financials
  • Staff and Board list


  1. Photography. Great photography is essential to a compelling annual report. Where will you get your photos from – a photo shoot, candids, stock photography? Make a list of what content needs accompanying photos and where you will get the photography from. Remember to use high quality photos!


  1. Delegate. Once you have outlined content for the report, you will then want to assign who will write the content. Create a section in your outline for who will be working on each page, the due date, and finally, whether or not the page has been completed. This will keep your process organized and efficient. (Lets include a screenshot of the top half of the webinar worksheet module 5 page 2)


  1. Create a timeline. A timeline is key to accomplish your annual report in a timely manner. You can create a timeline based upon your start date and work forward or pick an end date. If you have a definitive due date then work backwards from there. Include how many weeks it will take for content development and layout creation. Don’t forget to plan additional time for internal review!


We hope these tips are helpful to your planning process. We dive into how to create an annual report outline and much more with our GetStarted Marketing Webinar. We teach you how to develop an annual report from start to finish…and provide you with the worksheets to do it!


GetStarted Marketing Webinar is a six week webinar series where we will be sharing the same methods we use with our one-on-one clients!

Learn more here.