Most of the annual reports of the organizations we have looked at offer very little material that is not available on the website. The information on the website is usually easier to access is more current. The annual report's only real benefit seems to be to consolidate information in one place and provide easier access to financials. However, for the better performing groups, the website provides all the same information, if not more, so the only advantage seems to be the financial information. But because financial disclosures are limited to the statutory minimum, they provide little depth as to actual expenditures, whether expenses were double counted, etc. problems we have already found. As such, I am bound to think that they are a total waste of time, more meant as marketing material without much meet. They are useful to get some information or a quick idea of what the organization does or wants to do, but one is better off going to the website. That is not to say that they are all bad.
A few prospective donors have said that they would like to see annual reports to make funding decisions. I think this is mostly from corporate practice and not because anyone actually finds a great deal of value in them.To be more useful, it would be nice to get more information into the reports regarding strategic planning aims, progress against performance measures, beneficiary voice, and overall strategy. Essentially…less what they are doing and more what they hope to achieve and how they are progressing on that.