While your annual report should absolutely focus on the positives of your experience as a congregation over the past year, don’t use it as a chance to spin facts or cover over less exciting news.
If it comes across that you’re not being entirely honest, you’re turning a blind eye to things, or you’re leaving statistics out, it does not help build trust and encouragement between you and your congregation. In fact, it can do quite the opposite.
Remember, we are all in the service of the Lord, and it’s His will being done. Allow His work to shine through your report on its own and He’ll take care of the rest!
Be down to earth.
Hopefully, I’ve made this one pretty clear by now, but I thought it deserved a quick shout out on its own. The whole point of an annual report is to present information for the world to see, not your accountant. Make sure you’re not using high-minded terms or super “Christianeze” statements. Some of the latter can’t be avoided, but you want your annual report to be something that anyone (from your church or not) can read with relative ease.
Sure, you might refer to things here and there that only your congregation will fully understand, and that’s perfectly fine, but try your best to keep things down to earth whenever possible!
Do a “final pass” when you’re done.
Once your annual report is complete, it’s a great idea to step back and give it a good, honest look from the mindset of a “casual observer.”
Most people reading the report will do what we all do online, namely: skim it.
Sure, they’ll stop when they see your awesomely placed, eye-catching infographics, or perhaps when they come across a section that they’re particularly interested in, but once again the important thing to keep in mind during this final pass is that your eyes don’t glaze over. Remember those examples I gave you earlier. Even an apparently “good” report can still be way too overwhelming once you start to scroll.
Do you see the main message you’re trying to convey without reading every detail? What jumps out at you?
Pro Tip: Give the report to someone who isn’t closely involved in leadership and ask if it’s understandable and if the main messages come through. This can be a great way to test if you’ll get the results you’re looking for!
This “final pass” is a crucial part of the process, making sure that you’ve made something that is going to perform well and not just take up space and gather metaphorical “E-dust” on your site.
The grammar police…
Anyone who’s spent more than three seconds on Facebook or Instagram probably knows that there is a weird effect that online social media has on people’s behavior. For some reason, many people are willing to brazenly point out errors and correct others in online situations where they would never do the same in a face-to-face conversation.
So, let me humbly yet strongly suggest that you PROPERLY PROOFREAD your annual report. Make sure you get extra, skilled eyes on it so that no one’s distracting everyone else by pointing out silly little grammar corrections.
This one is of the utmost importance particularly when it comes to everyone’s names. Don’t insult people by getting their names wrong!
If you don’t have a good editor available, you can also consider a more powerful automated editor like Grammarly, too.
Prepare for next year now.
Don’t rest on your laurels once the report is posted, start thinking ahead right away. It’ll make next year’s report easier to pull together and most likely it’ll dramatically increase it’s quality if it’s on your mind for 365 days rather than just the week before it needs to be posted.
Start gathering photos, bookmarking videos, and recording stories, testimonies, and any other important data!
My final tip here is to gather feedback on your current annual report to see how next year’s report can be improved.
WOW… What an action pack chapter…
Are you ready for me?
Let’s keep it moving….