At the end of the year, your nonprofit has the chance to show the world who you are. It’s your chance to showcase the difference you are making in your ongoing efforts.

Everything is laid out, and your story can shine through. Like any story, you want to be able to reach people and tug at their emotions. Your donors are reminded of why they donated in the first place and why continuing to donate is in their best interest. The same goes for your volunteers who have donated their time and effort to your cause.

Telling the right story, in the most impactful way, is what will help your report accomplish its goals. Images get your point across much faster and cleaner than your words will. Think about adding some visual flair to your report to make the most of it.

What is your report about?

Your year-end report is about communicating your message to the donors that support you and the volunteers that keep you moving forward. You get to share your vision with them again and re-inspired them by the goals that your organization has set forth. You get to tell them where you are, where you’ve been, where you are going, and what you are doing to get there.

When you’re preparing this, think about how to show rather than tell them. When we think about the emotional connection to nonprofits, it isn’t the text they produce that we think of but the images. It’s the grave images of real struggle that move us into action.

Data may just be numbers, but it doesn’t have to be displayed as such. Looking at a graph or chart allows your readers to reach an intuitive understanding of what your data is saying.

There isn’t a strict formula.

There isn’t one form to rule them all. Each report is different, and each nonprofit includes different information. You get to tailor your report to your community. You are trying to reach them, so your goal should be to give them what they need from you. You want to answer their questions. The better you answer their questions, the harder your report will hit your donors.

Where are you going?

Help them understand what your mission is and what your goals are. If they don’t already feel the pull of your organization in their hearts, this is your chance to tell them. Explain what change you are striving to achieve in the world. Talk about the impact of what you want to have. Talk about the cause that drives you forward and remind everyone reading it why it’s important.

Visuals will help readers conceptualize a hard goal, making it easier to make meaningful progress towards it.

How are you getting there?

Once you set the heading for where your organization wants to go, you can focus on how you’re getting there. What you accomplished last year can be reviewed and compared to what you wanted to accomplish. Look at the impact that you managed to make. Show the positive differences that exist in the world because of your efforts.

Your graphs don’t just show the points, but the trend you are following. You can applaud what you’ve accomplished or point out where you need to make course corrections.

Display the success you have had this year and tell them what success looks like for you. Let them feel the vision you have and what kind of progress will make you happy.

Show your battle scars

Look at the challenges you faced this year. Obstacles will always appear to slow us down. Illustrate for everyone what you had to do to make things work. Show your donors how you faced them and how your battles played out.

Show them the peaks and valleys you have traversed to get where you are. Using visualized data, you can make the size of the challenges you’ve had more clear. If progress maybe wasn’t as much as you wanted, you can show them why to prove that you are still doing your best to follow through.

Highlight where your volunteers stepped up and sacrificed for the team. Discuss what challenges you are looking at on the horizon and what you are going to do to face them.

Transparency is key

Show your donors exactly what you do with their money. How much was raised this year, and how much was spent? What was your budget this year, and how you are changing it for next year.

Charts give a great sense of the proportions present in your budget. How much of your money is going where is starkly apparent.

Celebrate their gifts

Talk about the people that make your nonprofit possible. Talk about your donors. Illuminate some of their stories and showcase the heart they put into your cause. Talk about your volunteers and the hours they donate to your cause. Their generosity is what makes the change your organization is trying to accomplish possible. Celebrate the gifts they have given, whether it’s their time or money.

Thinking about using data visualization to tell a story in your next report? We can help you! Download our free Report Prep Guide to get started.