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User Story: How Social Misfits Media Takes its Nonprofit Annual Reports to The Next Level

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In this user story, we take you behind-the-scenes of our partnership with Social Misfits Media to create a template for nonprofit annual reports. We explore how the idea for this template came about, why charities should consider creating visual shareable content, and how you can spice up this template for your nonprofit.

The team at London-based Social Misfits Media works each day with charities, nonprofits, and foundations to harness the power of social media to reach their goals. Nearly all of the organizations they work with see the value in using social media as a tool to increase brand awareness or aid fundraising efforts.

And rightfully so:

In 2013, a staggering £2.4 billion ($3.8 billion USD) was donated online and via mobile in the UK alone, a 13% increase from the year before.  This means that a quarter of all philanthropic donations made in the UK came directly from websites, social media, and apps.

But Social Misfits Media thinks many organizations are inadvertently falling short on the potential value social media offers. To them, cultivating meaningful, long-lasting relationships with supporters is where the real value in the power of social for charities can be found.

“Relationships, storytelling, and a personal connection is often what drives donors to give year after year,” explains communications and social media advisor Erin Niimi Longhurst. “Donors want to hear about all the great work you are doing, and want to find out how their contribution was used, and where it made a difference.”

Building a relationship

For many organizations, telling their compelling story to supporters (and potential new supporters) is the best way to build a lasting relationship. And one way to do this is by producing visual content that resonates with supporters. These should also be created in such a way that makes it easier for them to share across their social networks.

When it comes to visual sharable content, Erin says Charity: Water is doing amazing work. Charity: Water is a New York City-based non-governmental organization that raises money to provide safe, clean drinking water to those living in developing nations.

“They really excel at creating beautiful images and facts which makes it really shareable,” explains Erin. “By combining powerful messages, like facts around the impact of their work with beautiful design, it really appeals to their audience and makes it a lot easier to engage with.”

Two examples of this are the Twitter backgrounds and web banners the Charity: Water team releases publically to their supporters to make it dead simple to share the work the organization is doing. The team even anticipates the needs of supporters and provides web banners in four sizes for each of the six designs they released!

Charity Water Twitter Backgrounds Web Banner

“Organizations find creating shareable visual content challenging because they will assume they won’t have the budget for it,” explains Erin.

Some are also extremely time-poor, so they assume that they simply don’t have the time to create anything worth sharing. Some of the bigger charities will have a designer in-house, but for smaller organizations, they assume creating beautiful visual sharable content is out of reach. It really doesn’t have to be this way! As long as you have a compelling story and the right tools, creating content that people will want to share doesn’t take that much time. And it doesn’t even have to cost anything!

Start with your reports

Looking for the perfect opportunity to create visual sharable content? Erin and her team point to the release of your organization’s next annual report as a great place to begin.

“An annual report is commonly used to highlight a nonprofit’s impact and mission, say thanks to supporters and hard-working volunteers, and make a case for donating to the organization in the coming year.”

Often times, annual reports can end up becoming page after page of boring charts, complicated financial figures, and too much text for the average donor to sift through. The story behind the great work done over the past year is easily lost.

“This is why we partnered up with the team at Piktochart,” says Erin.

We wanted to create a clean, user-friendly, and professional template tailored to suit the needs of charities and nonprofits when the time comes for them to report the good they are doing back to the public. Piktochart is absolutely fantastic for creating beautiful and professional infographics. It’s a great way to create content that packs a lot of information in without being overwhelming to the viewer, which is often the challenge when creating annual reports.

The ambition behind this project was to help nonprofit organizations, particularly the smaller ones, create beautiful reports that convey the impact they have achieved.

Many organizations don’t have the budget to employ designers, but want to stand out and clearly convey to their supporters the good they have done throughout the year. This template is the perfect solution.

Untitled Report

One of the benefits of creating a template on Piktochart is that it can be easily shared on social media, making it a wonderful fit for those looking to dip their toes into their first piece of visual sharable content.

Creating a simple, beautiful report that can be shared on social media channels can help organizations raise their profile and rally supporters around their cause online.

“Organizations can use this report to thank each and every donor on social,” suggests Erin. “Another idea is to share bits and pieces of the report on Instagram. Or perhaps send it along as part of a donation thank you email and make it easy for the supporter to share it with their social network.”

Start putting this template to work for your organization

Our teams were mindful to make this template easily customizable to fit the look and feel of your organization.  However, we had to start somewhere. We chose to use data from SolarAid to populate the template.

Our hope was that nonprofits wouldn’t get bogged down in the specifics used for SolarAid’s annual report to the point that it was hard to envision how this template could be used for their work.

Check out the charity annual report template and get inspired on how to show impact in an easily digestible and shareable way!

Here are three ways to make this template work for any organization:

1. Change the colors in the template to match your branding

Don’t let the orange and navy blue of SolarAid’s brand scare you off from using this template for your organization! It’s easy to switch the color scheme from SolarAid’s branding to your own.

Need some extra help? Check out our support page to find out how to change the background color of Piktochart templates.

2. Tell your story creatively with images

Who says images on an annual report need to be of the population you serve? Try including images of outstanding volunteers, your board members, a simple pie chart or graph, or even a graphic image with a quote from your Executive Director.

Using compelling images can greatly aid in your organization’s storytelling, making your visual sharable content pop. Take a look at how the Social Misfits Media team customized the template to visually tell the SolarAid story:

Solar Aid without Images Solar Aid with Images

3. Use this template for other visual content

Why stop at creating your organization’s annual impact report? Longhurst suggests slicing and dicing the template for use in all your online materials.

This kind of content, dubbed microcontent, is a short abstract of your full content. Imagine repurposing a quote from your report for a quick Facebook post, or sharing a collage of images in the report on Instagram.

Using this report to produce microcontent for your organization saves time when looking for what to post next on social networks. Read our team’s tips for producing microcontent here.

“You can easily change the colors to match your branding, and include as many images, facts, and figures as you wish,” suggests Erin.

In the charity and nonprofit space, the type of work really varies depending on the organization, and we created the template with this in mind. You can easily tailor it for your audience and even add an extra page or two. We really wanted to avoid it looking like a traditional annual report, and wanted to present the same information in a more condensed way – and in a format that people are more likely to engage with, too!

How does your nonprofit engage with supporters on social media? Have you tried spicing up your annual report in recent years to make it stand out? Drop us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

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