5 Things That Should Go in a Nonprofit's Special Report

  • by Shala Graham
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Could your nonprofit organization benefit from publishing a special report? If you have something interesting to show or tell donors about, then it could be the perfect avenue for getting the word out. That's because a well-written and designed special report can have a little bit of everything – it can pull duty as a fundraising letter, informational brochure, invitation to future events, and even the beginnings of a magazine article or book on the topic.

Before any of those things can happen, however, and before you can send press releases announcing your nonprofit’s special report or put it on your website, you have to decide what to include in your report, and how to include them. Here are five things that should go in a nonprofit's special report:

1. A strong, attention-grabbing title

Resist the urge to give your nonprofit’s special report an overly long or technical-sounding title. It might seem more specific to you, and even be more accurate, but the point of your document's title is to attract attention, not tell the whole story. Ask yourself this: Would someone who didn't know about my nonprofit want to read this document? If the answer is "no," then keep working through different versions until you find something that's a little more compelling or inviting.

2. Concise content

A lot of executives and nonprofit organizations are used to writing them in long, academic style. That's partially because they have a lot to say, but also because most come from backgrounds—and fill the types of roles—that require lots of reading.

Unless you can be certain the audience for your nonprofit’s special report is willing and accustomed to reading something so long as well, however, it's a good idea to keep things short and concise. That's because, for your special report to have any impact, it has to be read and noticed first. That's a challenge enough in today's busy world, so try to keep things to the point.

3. A few key stats, facts, and quotes

Sometimes, nothing you can put into your special report carries the same impact as a hard number or a direct quotation from an affected person. In the same way that the right photo can double the effectiveness of a fundraising package, facts, statistics, and details can add a lot of weight to your nonprofit’s special report. You don't want to overdo them to the point where your report is hard to read, but look for the right places to sprinkle in backup data where it will have the most effect.

4. A happy ending

Obviously, your nonprofit’s special report isn't a novel or narrative, but that doesn't mean you can't have a happy ending. No matter what sort of cause or issue you're working with—even if it's one that involves dire tragedies—try to end on a positive note, even if that's just more hope for the future. Donors and readers like to feel like they can make a difference, which is why your nonprofit exists in the first place. Remember that, and share a bit of the good news to go along with the bad.

5. A strong call to action

In one sense, your nonprofit’s special report isn't the same thing as a fundraising letter. But in another sense, every piece of marketing and promotional material your nonprofit produces should have some sort of appeal to donors and volunteers.

So, as you ramp up your special report, don't just strike a positive note, but let readers know exactly how they can take action and get involved. If you have followed the rest of our tips so far, there's a good chance they'll be interested in joining with your efforts.

A nonprofit’s special report can accomplish a lot of different things at once, but only if you create one that has the right ingredients. Take care to arrange yours with a catchy title, some punchy content, a handful of stats and facts, a little bit of positive news, and a strong call to action. Once you're done, you'll have a document that's not only worth reading, but one that will encourage others to help your nonprofit accomplish even more.

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