Write as if it’s going to be read

Someone famously said there are two things no one should see being made: laws and sausages.

I would add a third item to that list—corporate reports: year-end round-ups, annual reports, board reports. Writing expected to embody an enterprise-wide viewpoint can generally be counted on to say too much about everything and not nearly enough about something—any one thing that sums up the organization’s purpose or goal. These mega-reports are never written as much as they are extruded like the aforementioned sausages—information mashed together without an overarching message and expelled into the required format.

As an expert advisor to nonprofits, my friend Joan Garry has read (or struggled to read) her fair share of these things. She summed up her advice in this blog post. Joan advises carefully crafting the Executive Director’s report as if it’s the only part of the tome that will be read.

And if you want to keep your readers turning the pages after they finish the ED’s report, I suggest you open each subsequent section with a story that captures the real-world impact of the organization’s work. Nonprofits probably have an easier time finding stories that tug at the heartstrings, but every organization can find compelling stories of people who went above and beyond, grateful clients, lives positively impacted.

Tell those stories and your readers will stick around to the very last page.

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