Annual Report Maker Software Options for Nonprofits: Make an Impressive Report with Ease
Annual reports are a great opportunity for your nonprofit to share wins from the last year with your community and increase transparency. When done well with an annual report maker, annual reports can be a useful and effective communications tool for audience engagement. But we know as well as you do that actually creating a nonprofit annual report takes time and resources. In addition to writing all the copy, gathering financial figures, and getting images, you also have to do the layout—a major headache. Add on the back and forth of edits and approvals, and sometimes getting your annual report out the door feels like a miracle.
All that being said, we’re convinced that there are easier ways to create an annual report for your nonprofit! Today we’re breaking down the process and sharing some awesome digital annual report software options for layout and design.
Getting organized before jumping into your annual report maker
Sometimes it’s tempting to go full steam ahead and try to do #AllTheThings at once with your annual report. Meaning... trying to do the design in the annual report builder while you’re still finalizing the copy for the report. That’s a big no-no, nonprofit friend! Create your nonprofit’s annual report by getting get organized before you dive into the design work. It'll save you a lot of time and headaches in the end. (Trust us.)
We’ve created a simple checklist to help you gather all the important pieces right from the start.
- Create an outline of all the articles/reports you’ll include in your annual report
- Work with relevant staff and volunteers to gather the articles/reports
- Finalize and approve all articles/reports
- Gather photos from the last year that you may want to include (Pro-tip: gather more than you think you’ll need and make sure you get a mix of horizontal and vertical layouts.)
- Get your simplified year-end financial statements
- Create any graphics, charts, or graphs
- Pull information for donors you'd like to recognize, if you're including a donor recognition list
This is a pretty straightforward list of what to collect before you dive into designing your annual report. It’s also worth mentioning that before you start creating your annual report, figure out who gets to be a cook in the kitchen—who has feedback and approval power. You don't need every single staff member to sign off on the annual report before it goes to print, so it’s helpful to have clarity about who needs to be involved.
Annual report builder options to make your life easier
Now that you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to build the layout and design of your annual report. Is this the part you dread the most? You're “not a designer”? We want to let you in on a secret: that’s A-OK! There're tons of nonprofit report designer options that make designing your annual report way easier than it it used to be, so put down that InDesign manual and get ready for some easier options.
Yearly.report—a fun nonprofit report designer
For context, here are a few examples of yearly.report annual reports:
Canva—not an obvious software for annual report choice, but worth checking out!
Looking for an alternative to a multi-page annual report? Canva also has infographic templates that you could use to create an annual report in infographic form.
Did you know there are a million-and-one uses for PowerPoint beyond creating slide decks? If you already know the ins and outs of PowerPoint, try using the format of a PowerPoint slide to create a nonprofit annual report. You might find it's a piece o' cake. Use image and text boxes to create your layout, customize colors, and more.
If you want a little extra help with the layout of your annual report, there are numerous services online that sell premade annual report templates for a small fee.
Adobe Spark—awesome digital annual report software
Ready to take your annual report digital? Heck Yes! Adobe Spark might be the digital annual report software for you this year. It also doubles-up as interactive annual report software, allowing you to create a web page (called a Spark Page) that becomes your interactive, digital annual report. Upload images, videos, graphics, infographics, and text to create your report.
We've seen several annual reports created with issuu.com recently, and if you'll pardon the joke, they're real page-turners! This wide-ranging digital publisher stands out because of the multi-use factor they offer. You can create a digital magazine, complete with turn-able pages, take chunks of the magazine and send directly to your social media accounts, add engaging widgets (donation buttons? volunteer recruitment?), and then reuse the content in myriad ways. It's inexpensive, looks pro, and feels familiar.
Template Time! No need to sweat over NEW annual report design software
If your nonprofit has a past annual report that you were pleased as punch with, don’t reinvent the wheel and fight your way through new annual report design software! Consider using the old report as a template for your new annual report. Open up the original design file and save as a copy to create a new document that you can play around with. Going this route could save you a lot of time and resources.
And for you overachievers (or if you intend to work now and be lazy later, like us), consider making this year’s annual report a template for you to use in future years. Future you will give your past self a major gold star.
Even better, hand the task over to a pro designer who can iterate on your best work and make a masterpiece template you can use year after year. The best start isn't always a fresh start, and you *can* begin in the middle.
This leads us to....
Hire a designer—skip annual report software altogether
This may seem antithetical to the rest of this "You go, friend!" advice, but consider the resources you're about to spend: hours creating your masterpiece and money on an annual report maker to make it possible.
Software for annual report: key takeaways
Designing and creating your annual report really can be easier this year. By doing the prep work before you start designing and using one of the three annual report maker options we shared in this article, you’ll be on your way to designing an awesome annual report your supporters will actually want to read!