May Your Annual Report Be Your Scrapbook

I’ve  finally decided.  This weekend will be the weekend that I put together the scrapbook that will archive my summer memories.  Like all good scrapbooks, mine will tell a story. It will tell the story of the chocolate fudge ice cream that tasted so much better eaten from a cone on the boardwalk than from a bowl in front of my television.  It will boast accomplishments like surviving a road trip from the Mid-Atlantic area to the Deep South taken in just three days.  The scrapbook will be both a depository of memories for my reference and a window into my world for others who might stumble upon it now and in the future.  

If you approach your annual report like I approach my scrapbook, you’ll have to agree that your annual report should include a few key elements that will help you achieve these same goals.  These key elements, as outlined in the Standards for Excellence® code, are:

1) the organization’s mission statement;

2) information about your program activities;

3) audited financial data  — specifically, the statement of activities, and summary statement of financial position;

4) a list of management staff, and

5) a list of board members 

If your annual report does not include these basic elements or serves primarily as a record of donor names, you might be missing a big opportunity to give others a window into the world of your nonprofit.  Keep these elements front and center and you’ll be sure to keep the focus what you’ve accomplished, who helped get you there, and most importantly, who is better off as a result of all of the effort put forth over the past year.

Looking for more?  The Standards for Excellence® staff has several sample annual reports that include all of the elements recommended in the Standards for Excellence® code.  Members may request samples by email at or call (410) 727-1726.  Not a member? Join now!

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