The annual report. Every charity’s got to produce one. A few choose to just satisfy the Charity Commission’s regulations with a basic document showing their financials for the year.

But most take the opportunity to produce a marketing document the organisation can use to show its impact to key audiences – and attract their support.

So how can you make your annual report brilliant? It can be difficult year after year.

I’ll be giving advice in my ‘Make your annual review shine’ Masterclass at the Charity Writing and Communications Training Days on 29 and 30 October 2015. We’ve also got an Inspirational Talk from Teach First’s Rachel Cook on how the organisation produced its award-nominated annual review.

But in the meantime take inspiration from the five fantastic annual reviews below – some of the best of the past year.

  1. Teach First

What’s the concept? Teach First shows the impact it makes sending high calibre graduates to teach in schools in deprived areas through a collection of first person stories from pupils and teachers.

Why is it brilliant? It shows, it doesn’t tell. Instead of reams of text explaining what the charity has done this year, it uses real voices to explain its impact – which makes the publication so much more lively, engaging and likely to be read cover to cover by potential supporters.

See Teach First’s All of Us annual review

  1. British Heart Foundation (BHF)

What’s the concept? The BHF takes us on a journey through its 2014 achievements online and in print by way of an arcade game…

Why is it brilliant? It’s a clear, crisp and clever theme that just can’t fail to catch the eye. Most people who read annual reviews will skim them; the BHF recognises this and uses short, snappy text, interspersed with real life stories and stats, getting key messages across with a punch.

See the BHF’s Big Change annual review

  1. Keech Hospice Care

What’s the concept? A mix of achievements, case studies and stats illustrated with children’s drawings effectively shows Keech’s impact over the past year. It won the 2015 Third Sector Excellence Award for best annual review, beating bigger charities like Anthony Nolan.

Why is it brilliant? The language is clear, powerful and easy to understand. Who can resist a title like ‘A Story Like No Other (and some bits about money too)’? You can’t help but read on. It does away with a dull chief executive’s welcome, replacing it with an introduction from Millie, age 10, talking about the difference Keech has made to her family.

See Keech Hospice Care’s A Story Like No Other annual review

  1. Alzheimer’s Research UK

What’s the concept? The charity uses the Graham family’s powerful story of how their husband and father’s dementia has affected his and their lives, broken up into parts throughout the publication, to illustrate the need for more funding for research. I interviewed the family and wrote their story.

Why is it brilliant? Real life stories are undoubtedly the most effective way to show your charity’s impact. This takes the traditional case study to the next level, and packs a big emotional punch that can’t fail to engage the reader.

See Alzheimer’s Research UK’s annual review

  1. Dogs Trust

What’s the concept? Dogs Trust takes ‘good storytelling’ literally with this annual review, which takes the form of a fairy tale, complete with heroes and villains, myths and facts, and even a love story…

Why is it brilliant? The publication has a really clever concept guaranteed to grab its audience’s attention. At 20 pages of clear and concise text, it’s not too long – and of course it’s packed with pictures of cute dogs.

See Dogs Trust’s Once Upon A Time annual review

Need help with your next annual review? Get in touch.