Annual reports score big with better visuals

February 18, 2014

As you’re surfing the Internet, jumping from page to page in hot pursuit of hot content, what do you find jumps out and grabs your eye? Did you answer: a nice big block of dense text? Yeah, neither did we.

Recently, many nonprofit organizations have been coming to the same conclusion. You see, nonprofits are in the business of grabbing your attention, making a splash, making you stop and listen—just like everybody else. Unlike your average company, however, nonprofits need to enthrall not just your mind but also your conscience: they succeed by grabbing your heart and getting you engaged. Increasingly, visual rather than textual displays are being seen as the ticket. A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say.

For decades, non-profits have relied on the old staple of text-heavy annual reports. Recently, though, we have seen an exciting and significant shift to more visual presentation styles. In pursuit of greater supporter engagement, a few groups are experimenting with multi-media annual reports. This new report style packs information and emotion into a quick, convenient, and appealing package.

One of the first organizations we saw employ this approach was International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in its 2012 annual report. Since then, we’ve seen ever-greater experimentation. Check out these two 2013 annual report videos by the Natural Resources Defense Council and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Based on the success we’ve seen recently, we’re expecting an increasing use of report visuals—and likely, to stunning effect—so, make note on the pictures and videos you make of your group’s work in 2014 and experiment with a multi-media annual report in December!

–Janie Bube, 2014 Winter Intern