1 April 2010

Charities | New financial year, new approach?

As a new financial year begins for many charities, thoughts turn to the impact this recession is having on charitable giving, and the subsequent effect on strategic management, planning and marketing budgets in the run up to 2009/10 annual reporting.

The annual report can be a valuable marketing tool, and more than ever in these recessionary times, clever and careful planning can maximise the impact and value of this mandatory publication. Rather than opting for the convenience of simply commissioning a rework of last year's structure and design format with last year's design partner take a moment to consider the following pointers:

> Overall objectives

Communicate the strategy and performance in a clear, concise and thoughtful way with a focus on the future. Tell a cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end in a way that reminds the reader why they support this charity. The report should always reinforce what makes your charity special as well as explaining how your charity operates in terms of processes and systems.

> Look and feel

Ensure that the visuals and words are communicating a cohesive message. The concept that runs through the report needs to be born out of the key messages in the report. Communicating your story in a compelling manner is a must. The design must not only reflect the core messages but also reinforce your brand values and engage the audience.

> Honest impact

Transparency and simplicity are important when it comes to language and balancing compliance data and coherent communication. The report will be read by people who want easy access to key points and who will be intolerant of spin and bluff. Focus on what's relevant and really matters to the reader. Design can help to highlight key messages and maximise the positives.

> Accessibility

If individuals cannot easily find what they're looking for there's little point in having fantastic content. The design must add to the reports usability not hinder it. There's no point in having the most beautifully designed report if it's difficult to use. Clear navigation can help the reader, and pulling out key messages clearly can guide the reader towards what you want them to read. It should be possible to skim read as well as immerse.

> Integration

All of the above applies equally online as it does in print, so ensure that your communications are integrated across all media.

Wishing you a prosperous Financial New Year!