Plain language helps open walletsNon-profit organizations use annual reports to let donors know where their money goes, and ask for more support. Yet a 2013 study* shows only 26 per cent of the Canadians surveyed think charities do a good job of explaining how donations are used.

So, how does a charity do a good job of explaining, in a way that will open hearts, minds and wallets?

The Voluntary Sector Reporting Awards 2013, Ontario’s awards program for best charity annual reporting, has a best practices guide with specific advice related to financial discussion and analysis. Beyond this essential element, non-profits can do much to encourage donors to read about and understand. The June issue of my newsletter, Wordnerdery, has seven tips to help, including:

  1. Decide on your main audience and write the annual report for them using plain language.
  2. Be “transparent” in your reporting; share the good, the bad and the ugly.
  3. Clearly state your mission and relate your activities to it throughout the report.

Read the other four tips in the newsletter, with links to examples, details and 10 common mistakes non-profits make.

What else do you think non-profits should include in their annual reports? How else can they make the case to keep supporting them? Please share in the comments.

Wordnerdery is a quick read about words, effective/expressive writing, newsletters and more. Are you a subscriber yet? If yes, thanks for reading! If not, sign up now and don’t miss an issue! In keeping with Canada’s anti-spam laws, you can easily unsubscribe any time.

* Talking About Charities, 2013, by David Lasby and Cathy Barr for I. Muttart Foundation, 2013, Edmonton, Alberta.

Image: Wallet by “Danilin” and