How to win an award for your Annual Review

If you came to our GOOD Bites on Impact Reporting the other week, you won’t need to read much further. If not, and if you have space for an award-winning annual review on your CV, read on.

From judging the Third Sector Awards last year it was clear to all of us that there was a big divide between good reports and award-winning reports. These are my five steps to the podium. See you there!

  • Do the boring bits differently

Every annual review needs an introduction from the boss, some numbers and charts, and possibly a list of brilliant people who’ve helped you. But can you make these essential elements feel part of your story rather than bits that get in the way before the fun starts?

There are a million creative ways to do the Chief Exec’s intro and the figures differently. What could yours be?

  • Write proper

Loads of annual reviews are beautifully designed, but really boring to read – or even worse, badly written. (Sorry.) Award-winners paid as much attention to the words as the pictures – sometimes by hiring really good copywriters to work on them, sometimes just by putting the hours and the hard work in.

Words matter. Make every word count and think about the copy as part of your concept, not lines to be filled in.

  • When everyone else zigs, zag.

Ask yourself – what do annual reports look like? What are people expecting? What will other charities or organisations in my sector do? Then do something else. You won’t just be more likely to win an award, you’ll be more likely to be kept, remembered, pored over. Noticed. And we all want that.

Loads of annual reports are nicely designed, well-written, and do everything an annual report is expected to do. How is yours going to stand out?

  • Have an impact

Hopefully you’ll have begun your annual report journey with a view of what success looks like – reach, profile, donations, shares, staff engagement etc. Even if you haven’t, you should be able to monitor and collect evidence of the impact your annual report has had.

Like everything else you do, your annual report should further your organisations’s objectives – can you prove it has?

  • Tell your story

Have a great idea that tells your organisation’s story differently. Then write a great award entry that tells the story of your annual review brilliantly. Make it engaging. Talk about the problem you overcame. Talk about the impact you’ve had.  Include great visuals. Go a bit off-piste if you like.

Write a great entry. Include great visuals. Show off. If you don’t tell your story, no-one will know it.

Do awards matter? Not to everyone, and not always. But if awards will help you achieve your personal or professional ambitions, then this list is a decent place to start. Best of luck.