13 Best Nonprofit Annual Reports | Digital & Small Examples

January 31, 2020
8 minutes

13 Best Nonprofit Annual Reports: Great Digital & Small Examples & How You Can Learn From Them

Nonprofit annual reports. A useful community engagement communications piece, or a complete time suck that takes your organization months to produce? Nonprofit annual reports are a standard communications piece nonprofits produce every year and we often view them as an obligation. Something we have to do, as opposed to other, more inspiring, creative communications pieces in your portfolio. We’re here to say that creating annual reports does not have to stink!

In fact, we think it’s time that you let go of the boring, uninspired annual report and set a new standard. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite nonprofit annual report examples and shared key takeaways you can apply to your nonprofit’s next annual report.

Nonprofit annual report comparison chart

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National Parks Foundation
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Best Use of Photos
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UNHCR
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Clearest Summary and Data
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Calgary Zoo
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Best Use of Social Media
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Operation Lifesavers
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Best Annual Report Journey
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Best Friends Animal Society
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Best Can’t-Click-Away Report
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Invisible Children
Best for:
Best Use of… Everything
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What are the best nonprofit annual reports? Here’s our top 5 list:

These are some of the best nonprofit annual report examples of the last few years. They're engaging, gorgeous, and most of all, they clearly describe their nonprofit's impact. Read on to discover a variety of annual report makers that will help you make your best annual report ever.

1. National Parks Foundation nonprofit annual report (Best Use of Photos)

The National Parks Foundation is doing awesome work preserving and expanding parks around the country. Their annual report is the perfect opportunity to show off that work to supporters, bringing transparency around their work and impact. Many pages of the National Parks Foundation's report are dedicated to donor recognition lists, a very traditional component of annual reports.

Let your photos shine in your nonprofit reports

Because of the nature of their work (see what we did there?), the National Parks Foundation has a lot of photo ops for their nonprofit reports. Their use of photos throughout their report showcases impact locales through beautiful photos. What a way to bring the work directly to your supporters! Photography might be a “nice to have” investment for your nonprofit, but consider the mileage you can get out of a set of really good photos: social media posts, annual report graphics, website photos, and so on.

A page of the National Parks Foundation's annual report, with the headline "Stronger Together" and a photo of Bryce Canyon National Park.

2. UNHCR annual report (Clearest Summary and Data)

The UNHCR is a huge international development organization with dozens of programs. Like most nonprofits, they release an organization-wide annual report each year. But unlike some nonprofits, they also release program-specific annual reports. Enter the Educate a Child Annual Report 2018. We’ll admit this report is meaty at over 100 pages. Even so, we think there are some useful takeaways that you can apply to your annual report.  

Develop a summary of highlights

Given how in-depth this report is, we think it’s a super smart idea to provide a summary of the report highlights at the outset. After all, not everyone is going to read the report cover to cover. Giving them a summary of the highlights is a great way to make sure readers get the essential information.

A page from the UNHCR annual report, offering objectives and achievements in blue text on light blue background.

Bring data to life

We’ve all "read" those great annual reports that are chock full of numbers and stats. Sometimes they are literally presented in a laundry list format. It’s 2-thousand-something, nonprofit friend, so let’s get a little more creative with how we present data. The UNHCR has a wealth of data and they’ve smartly found ways to bring that data to life through infographics, charts, and other illustrations.

3. Calgary Zoo annual report (Great Use of Social Media)

This annual report is a few years old, but we think it offers some pretty interesting innovations when it comes to digital annual reports. For starters, it has a standalone Instagram account that uses the platform the deliver and share the annual report. Talk about an interesting way to rethink using a digital platform! Here's a key takeaway you can apply to your nonprofit’s annual report.

Rethink digital engagement

We think the Calgary Zoo’s annual report is a big invitation to rethink what kind of engagement annual reports can encourage. Given that this annual report is shared through a series of Instagram posts, the nature of the report inherently invites engagement. Readers can like, reshare or comment on each of the images. This is a pretty big contrast to a hardcopy paper annual report.

A screenshot of Calgary Zoo's 2012 annual report Instagram account.

While your nonprofit may still want to produce a hardcopy or PDF version of your annual report, how could you repurpose your annual report to encourage digital engagement? You may not need to open up a separate Instagram account, but we’re willing to bet that you’ve got some creativity waiting to be unleashed.

4. Operation Lifesavers, Inc. annual report (Top Annual Report Journey)

Not everyone is interested in setting up a social media account or live online party for their report, but that's not the only way you can put tech to work! Continuing the enhanced digital experience theme, check out the interactive menu in Operation Lifesavers, Inc.'s annual report.

Regulate the journey

Their report was put together with Yearly.report's digital tools, which can produce some prrrettypretttty great reports. In this example of an annual report for a nonprofit,, the reader's journey is regulated by the sectioning of the contents so that scrolling is easy but each chapter can stand on its own. And with as many different topics as OLI touches, forcing the reader to slow down and smell the stats is crucial.

Screenshot of the digital menu in Operation Lifesaver, Inc.'s annual report. The left side is a table of content in black text on white and the right side is a picture of a railroad crossing sign.

5. Best Friends Annual Society annual report (Can’t-Click-Away Report)

Best Friends Animal Society is a beloved nonprofit with huge brand recognition. They have their full annual report available to download on their website and they ingeniously created a kind of mini version of their report for the landing page. It gives all the key highlights from the report for readers who just want to the top level information. But being the nonprofit nerds that we are, we also enjoyed reading the full version of their annual report so we could give you a few ideas for your annual report.

Keep ‘em scrolling

The full version of the Best Friends Animal Society report lives on a web page, which creates a problem that most digital assets must deal with: keeping people’s attention all the way to the end. This report solves that problem by keeping things visually interesting. As you scroll, text placement, font size, and images are changing, which makes you want to see what’s next. You can apply a similar principle to hardcopy annual reports by making them visually interesting in a way that keeps eyes scanning.

And while it sounds like we're encouraging shorter reports, there's something to be said for longer reports that keep the super engaging info rolling along. Would you rather read a 3-page report with dense blocks of text or an 8-page report that breaks up the text with pictures, infographics, and clickable resources?

A page from Best Friends' annual report featuring a cat staring into the camera.

Play up your best assets

It’s kind of a no-brainer that people love pics of dogs and cats. Best Friends Animal Society uses that to their advantage in their annual report by integrating a ton of adorable animal photos. They give the people what they want! Your nonprofit can do this too, even if you don’t work with dogs and cats. Chances are, there's some aspect of your nonprofit’s work that gets your community and supporters revved up and excited. Whatever that thing is, play it up in your report.

Bonus: The best nonprofit annual report

Invisible Children's annual report. Overall, this is an amazing sample nonprofit annual report that utilizes all of the takeaways we've noted here. With a targeted goal and vision, a celebratory look back at past work, gorgeous, on-brand photos and design, and a solid online presence, this gets top marks across the board.

Small nonprofit annual report examples

Just because you're a smaller nonprofit doesn't mean that you can't have an annual report with big personality! These small nonprofit annual report examples will show you just what you can do with a bit of time, creativity, and a great nonprofit annual report maker.

1. The People Concern (overall best small nonprofit annual report example)

The People Concern may not be a huge nonprofit, but their annual report humanizes the data in a way that shows the enormous capacity of their impact. The smiling faces, personal messages and stories, and custom branding all bring us on a journey instead of shoving numbers in our faces.

The People Concern Annual Report Example

Make it personal

When you look at this annual report, what's the first thing you notice? The people. The images and stories that go along with them have a distinctly moving effect on a normally dry annual report. Your takeaway? Bring the smiles and the love.

This annual report is consistent, from the font to the image styles, to the copy. No matter which page you flip to, you can tell that it's part of Encircle's annual report.

Encircle Annual Report Example

Keep it on the level

Staying consistent with your imagery is almost as important as keeping your message consistent. At the end of the day, your goal is to provide transformational value to the people or community who need your services—even when you're building an annual report.

Check it out! Zoe Empowers gives a by-country breakdown in this colorful annual report. Combined with joyful, playful photos, this annual report celebrates the growth and impact in each country.

Zoe Empowers Annual Report Example

Break it down

It's common to break out annual reports by different programs, but this example shows growth and adoption by country. Find common threads among your programs and constituents and mix up your measurement methodology!

The Phoenix is one of our favorite nonprofits for the out-of-the-box way they're tackling addiction recovery. Their annual report works as hard as they do, and relies on community in the same way.

The Phoenix Annual Report Example

Never underestimate the power of testimonials

Yeah, community pulls the weight in this annual report! Get your supporters, clients, and staff involved: quotes keep your amazing data grounded while action photos emphasize the effort required to make change.

Best digital annual reports

Digital annual reports make it easy to keep your donors and supporters updated on your nonprofit's impact. Cost-effective, eco-friendly, and shareable, the best digital annual reports use technology to keep their message engaging, organized, and motivating so that supporters become donors and donors spread the love.

1. DIGDEEP (overall best digital annual report)

Honestly, what can we even say about DIGDEEP? This annual report is so cool, so fun, so impactful, so... digital! The colorful waves are reminiscent of water, the section organization is engaging, the dedication is heart-wrenching, and the impact is growing.

DIGDEEP Digital Annual Report Example

Make it reflect where you're going

The #1 best thing about DIGDEEP's annual report isn't the exciting images or insightful words, it's the focus on what's happening next. Not just a look back at the year in review, this annual report dives in hard to upcoming projects, provides links to all the relevant resources, and ends with an ask.

Code 2040 took a page from their fundraising campaign sites and built a website just for their annual report. Don't worry, they created an annual report pdf as well, but their site is the real masterpiece.

Code 2040 Digital Annual Report Example

Go with what you know

Don't be afraid to use the tools that you know work for you—this standalone annual report website pulls in recognizable and familiar tools like impact cards, tables and graphs, and moving background and images.

If you've never used issuu, this is your introduction. Check it out. Now. Yalari is lucky enough to have great images and content, but issuu is what really makes it a page-turner.
Yalari Digital Annual Report Example

Find yourself a nonprofit annual report maker

As important as annual reports are to nonprofits, not all of us have been blessed with report-building skills, so find a nonprofit annual report maker program software thingy and follow the template or instructions or whatever. Everyone will think you're a data-designing, impact-exhibiting, storytelling annual report master. (Don't worry, your secret's safe with us.)

More nonprofit report resources

There are lots of ways your nonprofit can jazz up its annual report this year. By looking at awesome examples of nonprofit annual reports, we hope you’re feeling inspired and ready to roll up your sleeves.

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