It’s January, so Happy New Year!
A new year brings with it a fresh start and a unique opportunity to continue leading your church towards your biblical purpose and your God-inspired vision. As leaders, no doubt we’ve already begun preparing ourselves and our teams for a full year of activities and events.
But one of the things that I look forward to in January is seeing the Annual Reports that many churches create to highlight both the activities and finances of the ministry from the previous year.
An annual report for a nonprofit or a church is an influential document that takes a look back on the critical activities from the prior year and helps celebrate the accomplishments of the church and the impact that it’s had on the lives of its members and its community. And while it’s not legally required, it does act as a type of prospectus for the nonprofit – especially for potential grantors, individuals, or businesses looking to donate and financially support a not-for-profit organization.
First, let me share some great examples of Annual Reports from other churches:
So why do it? What are the benefits?
There are really 3 good reasons why your church should create an Annual Report.
It Communicates Key Accomplishments
Your Annual Report celebrates all of the things that you’ve done within your ministry. It’s the perfect way for sharing how your church did on accomplishing those key metrics or objectives for the year. Highlight how many baptisms and salvations you’ve had. Spotlight the results of your building fund campaign or key goals that you set out to reach as a church. Share a great story or testimonial from members and their families.
Refocuses the Church’s Vision
Another benefit of an annual report is to help refocus the church’s vision. Typically the report includes some type of letter from the pastor; which is an excellent time to help remind members of why the church exists and how their sacrifice supports the ministry. I’ve also seen churches re-emphasize their core values and restate the vision. This helps connect in people’s mind what was done, to why it was done.
This is an excellent way to impress the church’s purpose among members and gives everyone that reads it clarity on what’s important to your ministry.
The final reason that the annual report should be done is to keep transparency within the church – especially when it comes to finances. Your report should include an overview of how much was received (financially) and where the money was spent. Try to make this a beautiful yet simple infographic. People generally don’t need all of the details, but they would like to know how their contributions have helped the church accomplish its vision.
Here are some recommended sections that you can include within your annual report.
• A Pastors Letter
• Review Spiritual Metrics (# of baptisms, # of salvations, 1st-time guest, etc.)
• Church Financial Results/Overview (what came in, what got spent)
• Key Ministry Highlights & Results (Kids Church, Missions, Building Fund, etc.)
• Testimonials and stories from members (give inspiration on how the church is helping to impact lives)
• Church’s Social Media Impact (# of page likes, post views, shares, & re-tweets, etc.)
• Results of any special services and programs (record attendance, families served, toys distributed, etc.)
Paper or Digital?
Traditionally annual reports have been created, printed, and distributed to through the mail or at the church’s annual meeting. And depending on your church size and budget, this may still be an ideal solution for your ministry. Giving members a glossily printed report can serve as an additional “thank you” for their generosity and commitment to the ministry over the previous year.
Even for smaller churches, you can use a simple web-based application like canva which actually already has Annual Report Templates available for you to modify and use.
But there’s also a growing trend of making your annual report entirely digital. Take a look at a few examples of churches that have made their annual reports public and have placed them on their website.
The benefit of making the annual report digital is obviously the cost savings associated with printing and shipping. You’re doing the same layout, but just making it digital and uploading it to your website. And if you make it a pdf document that can be downloaded, then individuals can either save the report on their computer or print it at their expense.
Every church should strongly consider doing some type of annual report, which celebrates their church’s wins and communicates how the ministry is doing at fulfilling its vision and mission. This type of visual communication will help your church reach new potential members while exciting those that are already committed to serve.