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Telling your story

Surveying Trustees’ Annual Reports in the charity sector

Telling your story


As the pressure has increased on charities to report more effectively on the impact of their achievements, the way they ‘tell their story’, has become more critical and attracted more interest amongst the users of Annual Reports.

It is surprising however, that even now some major charities fail to connect effectively with the users of the annual report of trustees.

Competition for donors is fierce and an accessible, appealing report clearly demonstrating the achievements of the charity and its value to the wider society is likely to draw more interest.

Times are hard; only charities with not just a story to tell but who tell it well are likely to succeed wither others may fail.

Key findings

The main objective of the survey was to consider how the particular requirements regarding the content of the trustees’ annual report have been applied by charities – these range from deadline to reporting, length of the trustees’ annual report to major risks.

We have found this year that more charities are ‘telling their stories’ and disclosing information about wider networks and partnerships used to deliver those services.
In addition reports show increased emphasis on the importance of the role of the charity and the impact it has in a wider context. Significantly more charities acknowledged the help that volunteers provided and described in greater detail their contribution.

It is interesting that of the 50 charities selected at random, 34% disclosed information of their designated funds in the notes to the financial statements, with no cross referencing from the trustees’ annual report.

However, as charities take their reporting into 2012 and the changing environment beyond, it will be important to balance the reduction in those disclosures seen as administrative with the impact of those which give added value for the reader and make sure that required information is not lost.


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