If you are saddled with the task of compiling an annual report for your company, here are a few quick tips to get you started.
Get Your Numbers Together
The basic purpose of an annual report is to present the financial status of your organization and a vision of the future (this goes for nonprofits as well). In order to get the information you need, you will have to have some meetings with your financial people, as well as those who are in charge of what direction the company is planning on taking in the future.
Organize the Report
Depending on your for profit/nonprofit status, there are certain things that must be included in your annual report. You should consult with some legal and financial advisers who have some experience in these matters for information on what your annual report mus include. Here are some of the basics, however:
1. Income Statement/Balance Sheet: Gives a report on your financial status, such as detailed explanations of your net income or loss for the year. You may have to list assets and liabilities, and shareholder equity.
2. Cash Flow Statement: a report on the liquidity of your company, and how cash moves through your business.
3. Risks: a detailed account of current and presumed future risks your company might face.
4. Notes: here is where you will detail your accounting practices, as well as how the information you are presenting was gathered and processed. If your company is publicly traded, there must be a section wherein a senior officer states that accounting meets the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Designing and Binding
If photography, design, and copywriting are skills that you do not possess, you may have to hire professionals, or find some people who are willing to donate their services if you are a non profit. It is important that your annual report look as professional as possible, but if your company has faced some challenges in the previous year, you may not have the kind of budget you might like. In that case, find some writers and/or artists who are just starting out and may work for less.
As far as printing and binding, there are a few different styles that may suit an annual report. Spiral coil, twin loop, and thermal binding are three that you may want to consider. If your company is just starting out and looking to save some money, consider purchasing one of these binding machines and doing the work yourself.
You will want to start with a letter from your most senior officer. His or her message should include an overview of the year’s high points, and a summary of financial performance written in layman’s terms.
After that, the order of what you present is up to you. Have a look at some other annual reports and borrow ideas from the ones that you like. How you present this material is entirely up to you, but in the overall narrative you will, of course, want to put as positive a spin on your situation as possible. If things have been going well for you, and are going to continue in that way, by all means, let the world know. If you have struggled, try to put as much emphasis as you can on the aspects of your year that showed promise.