The Best Digital Annual Reports of 2020

Tools & Tips

The Best Digital Annual Reports of 2020

Briteweb December 1, 2020

We’ve faced many pandemic-induced twists and turns this year. Nonprofits, foundations, and companies across all industries have had to adapt, pivot, and redesign the way they work. 

Organizations are finding more ways to go digital, whether it be fundraising, campaigning, or hosting virtual events. So why should your annual report be any different? 

The Annual Report of the Present and Future

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an upward trend of organizations publishing their annual reports digitally. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  1. It’s more sustainable for the environment, your budget, and future resourcing.
  2. The ability to introduce video to tell your stories, which can mean increased engagement from your audience.
  3. Don’t sweat a typo. There is more flexibility to edit and augment.
  4. You can distribute your annual report to a broader audience and use it as a promotional tool.
  5. Going digital doesn’t mean the option to print disappears. From downloadable PDFs to on-demand print services, you have the best of both worlds.

If you’re interested to learn more about the benefits of digital annual reports, you can read more here.

The Best Digital Annual Reports of 2020

At Briteweb, we’ve seen our fair share of annual reports and impact reports over the last ten years. Our partners span across various sectors, and our eyes are always peeled for the latest and greatest when it comes to anything brand, design, and digital. Let’s say we have an eye for this kind of thing. 

So, how did we decide who’d make the cut? We considered three key elements: content, design, and user experience when scouting and judging these nonprofit and foundation annual reports. 

Let’s get to the good stuff, the reason you’re here. This is our roundup of the top digital annual reports of 2020. 

screenshot of Girls Who Code's digital annual report

Girls Who Code

We’re a big fan of Girls Who Code’s annual reports. They consistently publish beautifully designed and well-executed annual reports, and this year is no exception.

They harness the power of design to tell the story, which lends well to this annual report’s digital medium. Where they lack in volume of copy, they make up for in subtle and complementary background animations. We’re not overwhelmed with paragraphs on paragraphs of information. We’re taken on a journey as we scroll down the report.

The navigation uses anchor links, which we find to contribute to a great user experience. The sections are clear and easy to access.

We also love that this annual report is branded differently from the last, giving it a distinct look that feels as fresh as it is engaging.

 

screenshot of Possible Health's digital annual report

Possible Health

Possible Health’s annual report doesn’t have animations, bells, or whistles, and we’re on board! It goes to show that a well-designed and user-friendly digital annual report doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to read well. 

This is a great example of an annual report that uses content organization and design to frame various sections, so the reader can digest each area without feeling overwhelmed. In particular, we love the use of drawers (tabs) in the donor recognition section. 

 

screenshot of BC Cancer Foundation's digital annual report

BC Cancer Foundation

Talk about a bold start! When we land on BC Cancer Foundation’s annual report, we’re greeted with a dynamic video loop. It’s visually exciting and communicates progress without words. 

This impact report showcases the foundation’s success stories with grids of articles, blog posts, and reports. And we love that they pop when we hover over each image, which tells us, “this image links to something else” without the distraction of buttons.

They’ve kept the page clean by opting for a hamburger menu on the top right corner, rather than a bar-type menu. This encourages the reader to scroll through the report and focus on the content in front of them.

 

screenshot of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada digital annual report

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada gets right to the point. Highlighting the organization’s main achievements right up front with a carousel image slider, we get an idea of their annual impact before we even scroll.

While the design isn’t as strong as the other reports on this list, we think it’s an excellent example of how investing in a digital annual report can be a sustainable solution and last for years. The organization can make the transition to their new brand without needing to have the entire report redesigned.

 

screenshot of Pride Foundatoin's digital annual report

Pride Foundation

What’s interesting about this annual report, or as Pride Foundation calls it, Gratitude Report (we love that!), is that it’s not exactly a digital report in the same way the others are. We would love to experience this gorgeously designed report as a microsite because it clearly deserves a medium that can showcase its beauty. Maybe next year. 

What we do love about this is how the organization has broken the report down into a snapshot. The page gives us an idea of what’s inside, summarizes, and invites us to dive deeper. This is perhaps an easy way to transition from print to digital for those organizations that need to make a more gradual shift.

 

“Annual reports can be used to highlight a nonprofit’s mission and impact, thank volunteers and supporters, and make a case for donating to the organization. Today, more and more nonprofits are going paperless with their annual reports.” – National Council of Nonprofits

 

What’s In Store for 2021?

Of the many lessons we’ve learned in 2020, one that is hard to ignore is the need to shift to digital. Remote work is now the norm, and it’s not going anywhere. Organizing the logistics of collecting stakeholder’s home office addresses and sending your next annual report by mail will be a new challenge in itself. 

Our prediction for 2021 is that many, if not most, organizations will take the leap and go digital.

If you’re interested in exploring what a digital annual report or impact report could look like for your organization, give us a shout, and we’ll be happy to help.

 

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