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How To Make Your Annual Report Standout

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

We all get them. The booklet annual report from the charity you supported this year. You flip through them casually. Perhaps they collect dust on your coffee table or desk until they reach the rectangular filing cabinet.

And many of us spend hours –  hours – designing and writing those annual reports, only for them to be sent to the recycling barely cracked open. The annual report can be a great tool to engage and inform donors, but only if you can capture their attention.

If you search online for creative annual reports, you are presented with some very eye-catching designs. Designs created with huge budgets by corporate entities like MailChimp and Clear Media. They employ unique materials (one had a wood cover) and intricate designs (laser cutting each page). Most of us don’t have these kinds of resources.

Below are some tips for charging up your annual report creativity, within your budget, and some of my favorite – nonbook – annual reports.

Tips for Getting Your Creative Juices Flowing

  • Google image search Annual Reports

  • Make donations to other, leading nonprofits (Charity Water, Human Rights Campaign, etc) and get on their mailing list for inspiration sent to your door (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)

  • Scour Pinterest for ideas

  • Check out the winners in the Publication or Brochure category for the PR News’ Best Nonprofit Awards (

  • Be inspired by the American Institute for Graphic Arts ( – a fellow association devoted to inspiring design professionals

Non-traditional Annual Reports

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