If your organization has ever produced an annual report, let me be the first to say “congratulations!” While they come in many shapes and sizes, they’re never a modest undertaking.
Despite the workload, the final result is gratifying: a well-developed report, infographic or presentation that summarizes your organization’s activities and outcomes in the past year (See some quality examples via Yodelpop). Many live on in the form of glossy brochures featuring an organization’s best photos, moving stories and supporting data.
While there is a wealth of information about the content of a successful report (see this presentation from Kivi Leroux Miller), I want to share some recommendations to help you think about how you can get your annual report off of the shelf and into the hands (or mobile devices) of your target audiences.
Cuyahoga Arts & Culture recently released its 2014 Report to the Community. Here are some simple strategies our team used to ensure our finished product was worth the effort.
1. Print isn’t dead, but it isn’t enough.
In today’s attention economy, it’s important to reach your audience through the channel they prefer (read more via NewIncite). Email is an inexpensive way to reach a broad list of stakeholders, but hitting send doesn’t mean you’ve crossed the finish line. Creating a dedicated webpage, engaging video or infographic that captures the essence of your report will engage your community and make sharing your report more fun.
CAC’s Approach: We used a combined approach and e-mailed our report to 10,000 individuals. We followed up by mailing copies to 10% of our list, ensuring our message would reach key stakeholders. Either way, recipients were encouraged to visit our report’s webpage, www.cacgrants.org/report to download a PDF of the report, view an engaging video and more.
2. Tell the story through social media.
What better reason to activate your online community than around your successes of the past year? Creating engaging social media posts that link directly to your report will ensure your report is not just a publication, but a conversation piece.
CAC’s Approach: Our targeted social media campaign used relatable language that encouraged users to share our content. By boosting key posts and tweets we reached more than 60,000 users—far more online community of about 10,000 fans/followers—and led hundreds to engage with our report online. Learn about boosting and promoting posts via Social Media Examiner.
3. Activate your supporter network.
When someone you care about asks you to do a favor, you usually go out of your way to make sure it’s done. Your supporters are already invested in your work, and they probably know someone who doesn’t know what you do. If you’re ever going to ask champions of your cause for a shameless plug, this is the time.
CAC’s Approach: Make it easy for your supporters to help you. We developed a simple and direct “action guide” to allow those in our network to find easy ways to share our report. Drafting a sample tweet or providing sharable graphics are effective ways that can be executed easily by other organizations or individuals.
Learn more about Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s work and join our e-mail list at www.cacgrants.org.
Jake Sinatra is manager, special projects at Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the public funder for arts and culture in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Jake manages CAC's investments in individual artists and grassroots neighborhood projects in arts and culture, social media and organization-wide projects and events. Previously, he has held internships with the Musical Theater Project, Baldwin Wallace University’s Office of College Relations, and the Central City Opera House Association in Colorado. Jake serves on the board of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Cleveland and studied arts management at Baldwin Wallace University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing.