January 12, 2023
Showcase Your Impact: How to Write a Compelling Volunteer Program Annual Report
It’s that time of year again. Gyms are packed full, health food is flying off the shelves, goals are still on track, and volunteer managers are hard at work summing up an entire year of impact to present to stakeholders in an annual report.
What is a volunteer program annual report?
Similar to the annual report put together by an organization or non-profit, a volunteer program annual report showcases the successes of your volunteer strategy over the previous fiscal year in an engaging, visual manner. It should strike a balance between factual and anecdotal, featuring program data, infographics, imagery, and testimonials to put your impact on display.
A solid volunteer program annual report can help with:
· Getting internal buy-in for the future
· Expressing gratitude to donors, volunteers, staff, participants, and stakeholders
· Building morale among current volunteers and recruiting new ones
· Inspiring the community with your mission
If this is your first time compiling a volunteer program annual report, don’t fret. It may seem daunting, but this article was created to guide you through the process and make writing your report as seamless as possible.
What to include in your report
A statement from the program director
Open your annual report with a statement from the program director or a similar position––highlighting your mission, high-level accomplishments from the previous year, and optimism for the road ahead.
Key program data
This is the perfect opportunity to display your impact using statistics from the past year. Suggested metrics to feature include:
· Total volunteer hours
· Total hours per volunteer role
· Total hours per site
· Active vs. one-time volunteers
· Volunteer roster growth
· Impact-related measures like bags of trash picked up, trails maintained, etc.
· Program participants served
· Shifts completed
· Staff time saved
· New volunteers recruited
Use the data you collected to tell a story and apply validity to any program updates or initiatives from the past year. Did you get a new volunteer management system that saved your staff time and resources? Did you expand your program to reach new communities or groups? Use tangible facts to tell the story.
Likewise, use data to share the impact your volunteer team had on your community. This may include the number of home visits that were completed, the number of families impacted, or the number of patrons who visited a volunteer-run site. This is a great place to interweave testimonials with facts and figures.
Create an overview of basic financial data to include in your report. This should include a summary of program expenses, program revenue from donations and grants, and any other applicable figures. Use this opportunity to showcase economic metrics such as:
· Your return on volunteer investment (ROVI)
· The annual economic impact contributed by your volunteers
· The number of full-time equivalent positions that your volunteer hours equal
Gather testimonials from volunteers, event participants, and staff to integrate throughout the report. Focus on the stories that align with your mission and make an emotional connection with readers.
Feedback from surveys
Compile relevant survey results from your volunteers, participants, and staff and present them in an engaging manner in your report. Whether the survey results are focused on volunteer and participant satisfaction, volunteer impact, or likelihood to volunteer or participate again, these figures add another layer of tangible data that emphasizes the validity of your efforts.
Imagery from volunteer activities and events
Include photos that you have collected throughout the year of volunteer shifts, activities and events that showcase your volunteers, participants, and staff. If you don’t have many images, incorporate stock photos that closely represent your cause.
Any acknowledgments received
Did your volunteers or program receive any media coverage, recognition, or awards over the past year that should be highlighted? If so, don’t hesitate to include them.
Gratitude for your supporters
Conclude your volunteer program annual report with a note of gratitude for donors, volunteers, stakeholders, staff—anyone and everyone who makes your program possible.
How to create it
Step 1: Gather your content
Start by pulling together as much of the data, content, and imagery mentioned above that you have access to. These are the nuts and bolts of the report that will influence how you proceed with the editorial and design aspects. Helpful tip—create a folder and start stockpiling these away now for next year’s annual report.
Step 2: Set the tone
As you write the content of the report, make sure the tone of your editorial copy is consistent with the brand voice of your organization. Think about your audience as you write. The brand voice of a volunteer program for parks and recreation would have a much different sound than the volunteer program for the Smithsonian.
Step 3: Create the design
Creating the layout of your annual report is the final step. Much like the editorial tone, the design should feature a consistent tone throughout the piece. Use a color palate and fonts based on the overall branding of your organization.
The report should feature a mix of content, imagery, and infographics throughout. Use graphs and charts to convey key statistics while intermingling photos of your volunteers, events, and activities throughout the document. If you don’t have an in-house designer who could create the layout, try a tool like Canva that offers a variety of free templates.
A few of our favorite examples
A volunteer program annual report is a powerful tool to put your impact and efforts on display. The most powerful reports feature a mix of engaging content, tangible program data, and an attractive design. If while drafting your annual report you have found that you don’t have the data to produce a compelling piece, it may be time to invest in volunteer management software (VMS) or upgrade to a more robust system.
Offero is an enterprise-grade volunteer management system that seamlessly tracks all of the metrics that you need for an impactful report, such as baseline program statistics, impact-related measures, volunteer feedback, participant feedback, and more. It saves volunteer coordinators valuable time and energy by automating key tasks—allowing them to focus on the people, not the paperwork.