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Writing annual reports

07 March 2011

Many people cringe at the thought of having to write an annual report. But it really doesn't need to be all that difficult - although they can be very time consuming and often more than a little frustrating!


An Annual Report is an excellent way to provide information to your shareholders, partners, Board and other interested parties about the performance of your organisation in the previous 12 months.

Annual reports can also be a useful marketing tool as they can:

· highlight your key achievements and strengths - useful if seeking sponsorship, funding or investors

· show prospective employees the nature of your organisation and what you stand for

· be a useful source of background information for media.

Many organisations are required to produce an Annual Report, such as:

· publicly listed companies on the ASX

· many charities and not-for-profits that have government funding

· government agencies and government funded organisations such as research groups.


If you are not required to produce an annual report, consider writing a mini-annual report that showcases your key achievements and your people (but not necessarily your financials). This can be an equally powerful tool in an increasingly competitive landscape.


Most annual reports follow a fairly clear formula, with similar types of information, usually including:

· welcome from the Board Chair and/or CEO

· an overview of highlights of the previous 12 months, including awards received and key achievements

· the organisational structure including the management team and Board of Directors

· what the organisation expects to achieve in the future (generally 12-24 months)

· financial statements and analysis.


To keep your annual report interesting to the reader consider including:

· case studies on key projects/achievements

· statistics, graphs and charts to help tell your story

· quotes from staff/clients showcasing areas of your business

· photos - lots of photos! And connect your photos to activities, achievements and accomplishments - don't forget photos of your employees, management team and Board

· profiles of employees, clients, suppliers, board members that help show the human side of your business.


Annual reports can easily be made accessible online via your company's website, as well as producing hard copies or CDs that can be distributed to stakeholders and other interested parties.


Mel Kettle is the Principal of Mel Kettle Consulting, a boutique marketing communication agency based in Brisbane. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Tourism Management) and a Master of Business (Marketing) and has nearly 20 years experience in developing and delivering strategic marketing communication.

She has written lots of annual reports and actually enjoys the experience. To the amazement of many!

Ph 0404 600 889


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