What’s in my Mailbox | “Annual Report”…or “Gratitude Report?”

February 22, 2017

A little back story…

Back in 2003, I was working as a dedicated grant writer for a wonderful organization serving women and children. Like so many of us in nonprofit work, who usually wear many hats, I was often called off-task. And, as soon as my boss found out that I’d been a graphic designer in a previous life (and still had access to the design software!), she assigned me the task of writing and designing our annual report.

That particular year, the challenge was the rebranding and name change the organization had undergone prior to my arrival. Additionally, there’d been a change in systems, and many of the outcome measurements we had reported in prior years were now deemed simply too unreliable to report. Oh, and did I mention that I had two weeks from start to finish to write and design the report?

What to do?

It helps to remember the words of JFK:

When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity. Click To Tweet

So I went the way of the great Beyonce. I took lemons and I made lemonade.

And that is how my very first gratitude report was born. I flipped it around and put the focus solely on the donor, shining the spotlight on them and really letting the gratitude flow. As a result, our report was filled with quotes and stories from our supporters, not only individuals who’d made gifts, but foundations who’d provided us grants, and even government agencies. I cast a wide net, and crossed my fingers. The results? Our gratitude report was a resounding success. The board loved it, donors loved it, and we were receiving overwhelmingly positive calls — left, right, and center. Did it raise money? You better believe it.

Thinking back on it now, I can’t believe that over ten years have gone by, but we know how time flies. And I know I’ll never forget the experience that cemented my faith in adopting a gratitude report, rather than the standard nonprofit annual report. I’ve been sold on this method of annual reporting ever since. Whenever a stellar one crosses my radar, I beam. And then I instantly think, “Wouldn’t it be great if I shared it?”

So that’s where I’m casting my spotlight now: on this report from Interval House, an organization passionately dedicated to working toward ending domestic violence. Special thanks to John Lepp of Agents of Good for sending it my way.

Notice the donor-focused title of the report, the structure, the lively photographs, the stellar storytelling, and the seamless integration of data. Virtually every single element points back to the donors who’ve made Interval House’s work possible, and I absolutely love how the three executive managers, Leslie, Nadine, and Arlene, make it a point to honor both big and small accomplishments.

Anyway, without further ado, here it is…(click image to download)


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