Tips for an “awesome” annual report.

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 8 years, 5 months ago.

  • Author
  • #147377

    Cindy Orellana

    We’ve all seen it, and based on the amount pages printed when we create it makes us scared to read it, nonetheless, it’s mandatory and crucial for your agency. And so every year a comprehensive report comes out from your agency about activities, successes and financial performance. As communication and creativity start becoming a vital point across all aspects of government, I’m here to ask “Are there any examples or best practices out there on how to make an AWESOME annual report?”

  • #147401

    Steve Ressler

    This is a little outside the box but I love these annual report –

    This guy is so talented he now works on Facebook Timeline

  • #147399

    Hi Cindy – When I was in the non-profit sector, I’d be responsible for producing the annual report for organizations as the communications/development guys…so I’d collect others to find the best elements and here’s what seemed to work well:

    1) Letter / Message from Key Leader

    2) Quick Summary (in addition to Table of Contents – an “At a Glance” Summary of the whole report right up front) – could be interesting to make this an infograph or similar…

    3) Information / Quantitative data – charts, graphs, etc. – with narrative (again, on each page/section, good to have a quick summary box)

    4) Inspiration / Qualitative content – what are the stories of real people in the agency – profiles of citizens / staff / projects / etc.? How did you make a difference that makes everyone feel motivated by the mission? Include pictures (real people, if you can vs. stock photos), large words with quotes, etc. –

    5) Prognostic: Vision for the future, how you’ll build on success in past year, mitigate / eliminate risk / failures going forward

    Seems simple, I guess…but it probably should be…or know one will read it! 😉

  • #147397

    Steve Richardson

    Andrew’s outline is a good one. For more details specific to GPRA reports, consult the Mercatus Center’s archives of their scorecard for reports of the 24 CFO Act agencies. I started that project before moving to DOL, where I still produce our report.

  • #147395

    Blaise Hébert

    Do the opposite of what Andrew just stated. 😀

    Start with your conclusions, and work your way back to your research. That way, you’ll capture the attention of your audience. They may or may not read the rest, but they will ask you questions. This is what you want. Stick to small formats.

    Be bold, concise, and creative. it works.

  • #147393

    Dennis R. Still

    Key to annual reporting is to figure out what exactly your audience is looking for. Keep it simple and concise, but able to be moved from person to person within an organization. If you get too complicated, it will get translated incorrectly along the way. Visually appealing with good text to highlight the value of the data.

    What is your goal in annual report? Who is the audience? What data will help show that? What text do you need to include?

    Good luck!

  • #147391

    Robert Bacal

    Can’t resist. From the archives when I worked as a government employee.

    Writing An Annual Report For Government

    If you are amused by the antics of public sector and government, here’s a little parody that contains a wee bit more truth than it ought to, about how to write annual reports if you are in government. Based on Robert’s real experiences working in government and being involved in the writing of departmental reports.

  • #147389

    Cindy Orellana

    This is great! Thanks everyone for your feedback!

  • #147387

    Cindy Orellana

    “Wow” factor.

  • #147385

    Agreed – so run 5 to 1. Start with end in mind. What do you want people to remember or what action would you like them to take?

  • #147383

    David Fletcher

    Some of the best annual reports that I’ve seen have been coming from various state governments in Mexico. For example, the state of Aguascalientes just published their annual report a few days ago at These reports are designed to reach the public and general include much more than just a long PDF. There is usually a live stream where the Governor and other officials report on what they have accomplished and what they hope to accomplish in the future. They will often take live questions as well, addressing progress. I like how engaging they seem to be. Then there are videos, usually hosted on YouTube, that report progress on goals that are of greatest importance to the populace. Of course they also publish the traditional PDF, along with a shortened summary version, which I think is a good idea. My hope is that this kind of engagement is sincere and results in real changes for the population they serve and not just political events. Here’s the second annual report from the municipal administration of Zapopan: I was interested in this because Zapopan has been doing some very progress things lately in relation to technology, including their adoption of cloud services. I think I see every annual report published by the state of Utah each year, some good, others not as good. I’ve posted some of them to our document sharing site on Scribd:

  • #147381

    Brenda Roth

    Hi Everyone. This is an “awesome” question. I like Steve’s points for creating the document. What you also need to consider is that you need a graphic designer and a project manager who can work hand-in-hand and someone who understands how to manipulate pictures, graphs, and tables for the greatest effect. If your annual report is also an outreach product, then you definitely need to have someone who can pull together pictures, text, graphs, tables, etc. to make it all come together. Finally, you need a project manager who can move freely in the organization among senior leaders and those who provide data for the report. Without someone who can do updates and get feedback throughout the process easily and quickly, you will find the true meaning of “garbage in, garbage out.” Don’t wait until the end to show the product to your senior leader.

  • #147379

    Brenda Roth

    Oops, in my reply earlier I said I liked Steve’s points when I really meant Andrew’s points. Sorry Andrew

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