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Increase the Impact of Your Annual Reports

Updated: May 9, 2019

Two-page reports can be more user friendly and action-oriented for busy audiences compared to longer reports.

This time of year I am creating, approving, and presenting 2018 annual reports in hopes of bringing lessons learned into our current 2019 work.

This year, I challenged myself to create a two-page annual report for a brand new program, take a look:

What is this report about?

Last April, the Wisconsin State Health Department launched a new, free HIV testing program at select Walgreens pharmacies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The goal of this program is to normalize HIV testing alongside other health services you might access in a pharmacy, such as flu shots and blood pressure checks. There is a lot of stigma around HIV due to outdated information and other systemic factors, so my colleagues and I wanted to increase visibility and access to free HIV testing in spaces where people pick up their everyday essentials.

Billboard against a blue sky that reads, "Snacks, Toothpaste, free HIV test. At select Walgreens near you." Picture of toothpaste and pretzels on the billboard.
Billboard advertising free HIV testing at select Walgreens in Milwaukee.

There was a lot of excitement and interest in this new program, so we wanted to share the results from the first nine months.

Many organizations and grants still require longer annual reports. This two-page report could also work as a summary document, highlighting the key points in your longer annual report for your different audiences.

Creating the Two-Page Report

To create this report, I focused on two key questions to determine what information to include:

1. Who is my audience?

2. What information do they need to know?

There was lots of great information I could have shared on our new program, however answering these questions quickly helped me select what data to include and what information to keep for more detailed data requests.

1. Who is my audience?

For this annual report, the audience was people who work at local nonprofits, clinics, and health departments who may refer patients to Walgreens for testing. This audience was important for me to identify. If the audience was the Walgreens pharmacists who are performing the HIV testing, I would have included different information in this report, such as possible action steps to improve the testing experience for patients.

2. What information do they need to know?

This question helped me select exactly what charts and data points to include in this annual report. For example, I included a chart comparing first-time testers at Walgreens and first-time testers at community-based agencies in Milwaukee funded to provide HIV testing. Comparing this Walgreens HIV testing program to our other HIV testing program in Milwaukee was more relevant to our community partners than to the pharmacists. As shown in this chart, the pharmacy-based testing program is reaching a greater percentage of people who have never received an HIV test before.

I created this report using Microsoft Publisher and inserted my charts from Excel. This could have also been created in Word or PowerPoint.

After I identified all the key information that would be important to our partner agencies, I worked on editing my charts, creating titles with the main points of each chart, and using a variety of chart types to convey my message.

I only included one block of text because most of my key points could be conveyed through simple charts, which are more eye catching to my viewer who has minimal time to review this report.

Three reasons to use a two-page annual report:

  1. Provides a high-level overview of a program for busy audiences.

  2. Keeps key stakeholders up to date on how the program is developing.

  3. Saves time. This two-page report will be a great template for future annual reports.

Take a look at the complete two-page annual report and let me know what you think by tweeting @SaraDeLong or send me an email.


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