December 11, 2009

Annual Reports: I think annual reports are important. I don’t mean expensive ones. Years ago I read a great article about annual reports – that the focus should be the future, not a summary of the past. So in your annual report, summarize the past as the projection for the future. Tell stories about impact. Tell stories about the future and about your donors. Give me the financial picture. List your donors and your volunteers and your staff.

And consider this: what’s in a name? Didn’t Shakespeare talk about that? So did Jeff Brooks in his blog Future Fundraising Now, reporting on comments from Katya Andreson in her nonprofit marketing blog – and Katya was talking about the Pride Foundation.

So what did they say about the name, you ask? “Don’t call it an annual report.” How about gratitude report, like the Pride Foundation. And my ideas: How about a donor report? Or how about a “thanks to you report?” Or how about an impact report or an accomplishments report? But I like gratitude report or thanks-to-you report the best.

Process: I’m a process person. I love process. I believe in process. I’m committed to process. But be prepared. Process must produce results. Process is messy. Process takes time. Process requires strategic (and cage-rattling) questions. Process demands lots of deep conversations with diverse people. Process benefits from engaging people with different life experiences. And process is uncomfortable.

Hey, what’s not to like? Ha ha. I know. Process can be frustrating. But done well, process is irreplaceable. Process is as important — maybe more important — than the result.

For example, how do you plan your fundraising? In your office with the development staff?  Do you organize a one-day retreat to do institutional strategic planning? These are events, not processes.

Check out Seth Godin’s blog of 12-10-09. Seth talks about the difference between process and an event. He says, “Events are easier to manage, pay for and get excited about. Processes build results for the long haul.” I’m a long haul person, how about you?

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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