Every organization with a community presence, from small nonprofits to national trade associations to multinational corporations, has a mission — missions that are as varied as the people who guide those organizations. And every such organization depends in some way on groups of investors, donors, members, employees, volunteers, customers and other interested parties to help bring its goals to fruition. The people who support that organization make those objectives possible, so staying connected with these stakeholders is certainly crucial to long-term organizational success.
Enter the annual report. Once simply a vehicle for communicating the facts and figures behind an organization’s bottom line, the annual report in recent years has evolved into a powerful tool for establishing and enhancing connections. While numerical data certainly does reveal part of the picture, a properly planned and designed annual report can achieve and convey a great deal more, empowering organizations to tell their individual stories and convey their unique visions in human, real-world terms.
Case Study #1: Outreach International Annual Report Design
A charitable organization with the bold vision of ending extreme poverty around the world through sustainable means, Outreach International came to Picante wanting an equally bold, captivating annual report to communicate its vision to stakeholders across the globe.
Thankfully, Outreach had done a wonderful job of documenting the real human beings positively affected by its organizational efforts, dispatching professional photographers to distant locales to capture vivid images of those touched by its work. High-quality photography can, as the adage goes, be worth a thousand words. Even more important, however, poignant photography lends an irreplaceable emotional impact to the rest of a design piece. In the case of the Outreach annual, otherwise-anonymous victims of poverty in remote corners of the world were brought front and center before Outreach’s audience, amplifying the power and tangibility of the group’s noble objectives. Photos were used in large format, complemented thoughtfully by relevant graphics, statistics and narrative text. An earthy yet vibrant color palette reflects the largely agricultural peoples served by the organization, and large headlines and a clean, organized design structure serve to make the annual engaging and reader-friendly from start to finish.
Case Study #2: Martha Jefferson Hospital Cancer Center Annual Report Design
Having recently moved to a brand-new facility that was heavily supported by donations from the local community, Martha Jefferson Hospital asked Picante to design an annual report for its cancer treatment center to highlight medical achievements, research findings and philanthropic initiatives, while also clearly communicating statistics relevant to patient treatment.
Photography again plays a large role in this annual report design, emphasizing Martha Jefferson’s enduring ties to the region’s residents, as well as the faces of those who are truly at the heart of the hospital’s mission to serve the local community. In keeping with Martha Jefferson’s commitment to the patient experience, shots of hospital caregivers feature prominently in the layouts, alongside photos of the beautiful, new, state-of-the-art facility.
Since the report would be filled with treatment- and research-oriented statistics, packaging this copious information for public consumption was one of the challenges in developing the design. Thankfully, data doesn’t have to be boring — on the contrary, statistical graphics should engage the reader’s interest as much as the other design elements, and enhance an annual report’s overall readability. In response to this challenge, Picante created clean, crisp, colorful charts and graphs to convey the center’s necessary clinical data and present the wealth quantitative information in easily absorbable formats.
Telling Your Organization’s Story
The above are just two examples of organizations that were successful in communicating their visions through effective annual report design. With some planning and an ongoing commitment to gathering meaningful, high-quality photography — as well as an experienced annual report designer — any organization, large or small, local or global, can leverage its annual report into a thoughtful design piece that will inform, engage and inspire key stakeholders.