Learning patterns/Making an annual report

A learning pattern forreporting
Making an annual report
problemGroups, organizations, and project leaders may find it difficult to summarize an entire year's worth of work in an annual report.
solutionThese are some tips for making great annual reports, which can be useful for a lot of reasons.
creatorWolliff (WMF)
created on20:08, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?


Groups, organizations, and project leaders may wish to make an annual report about their work during the year. It can be hard to know where to start, especially when doing this for the first time. At the same time, an annual report is a good opportunity to share information about what you have accomplished in the past year, keep everyone up-to-date, or fulfill some kinds of reporting requirements (e.g. those in the Wikimedia Chapter agreement).

What is the solution?


To make a good annual report consider these main aspects:

→ Workflow


Having someone responsible of the report and planning the time it takes to create it will help you process the information in a way that is useful for the entire team. Here is a full list of tips:

  • Make sure somebody at your organization is responsible for leading the process to make your report.
  • Have a place where information you need to make your report can be gathered throughout the year, so you can find it when it comes time to make your report. This could be a tracking spreadsheet, where you register every activity you hold, and the results. Find the Tracking and Reporting toolkit on the Evaluation portal to help you (for instance, you can fin there the initial reporting and tracking spreadsheet for Wikimedia programs.)
  • Monthly reports are also a good way to collect information about your activities as they are happening throughout the year.

→ Accessible content


An annual report can be hard to produce and confusing, since it covers a whole year of activities in an organization. How can you best organize the information? Find the main work streams of your team and clearly identify them in the report. Your team's work could be organized by goals, programs or other forms of categories. Bring these as sections in the report, and help the reader get the big picture. Continue reading to find more tips on content management:

  • Make the time period the report covers clear on the first page or the title page of the report.
  • Instead of a long description of all of the events and activities that you did, try to group your accomplishments into different categories, programs, or themes that will help the reader get the big picture of your work.
  • Instead of including every event or activity that you did (if you did a lot of activities), pick and choose some that best represent your work so you don't overwhelm your readers with a long list.
  • Think about what will interest your readers. An Annual Report may have different audiences: current funders, potential funders, cultural partners, the local community, to name the most common. Not all of them know what the organization does; sometimes, they haven't even heard about the Wikimedia movement! By making your goals and programs clear, you make the report accessible for any audience. Find more information about working towards goals on the Evaluation Portal/Plan: Grants:Evaluation/Program Goals and Measurable Results.
  • Include summative tables that show your work across programs and activities
  • If needed, have a plan in place to translate the report from your local language to English. This is especially useful for organizations who want to keep the broader movement informed as well as local communities.
  • Share your report. Link to it from the global reports page on Meta, and from your organization's or project's page on Meta. Send an Email to the Wikimedia Announcements list about your report. Send your report to your members, or to your local mailing list.
  • Consider sharing your report on a page on Meta as wikitext rather than as a PDF or an external site, because this allows anyone interested to translate your report to other languages, enables people to search for information in your report more easily, and ensures that your report will be kept in a stable location.

→ Multimedia content


Aside from describing the activities and their outputs and outcomes, show the reader what such activity looked like. Share photos, videos and quotes from participants. You can also talk about your results through graphics and summative tables. Here is a full list of tips to consider in this respect:

  • Include pictures, sounds, and images in your report so you can communicate about your work in different ways.
  • Consider including colorful or engaging visualizations (e.g. a chart) to explain your work.

→ Learning and accountability


Reports are a two way street: it should inform the reader about a team's work, and they should also help the team learn about their actions. Use the report to reflect upon the work done in the past year, and consider sharing what you learned from your activities. Problems and challenges will arise at different moments in your path. How do you deal with them? More often than not, challenges are shared across the movement, and some other community member might learn from your experience. Here is the full list of tips on the report as a learning tool:

  • In addition to accomplishments, discuss the challenges your organization has overcome, or those that are ongoing. Reports are an important chance to share learning, and readers will want to know how you solved problems.
  • Include your balance sheet with income and expenses, to show readers how you spent funds during the year and what you received.

Things to consider

  • If your organization was not very active, it is still a good idea to produce a short report letting people know.
  • Annual reports are different from monthly reports, because they look at the big picture of the work your organization has done. They are an opportunity to bring out broader themes from throughout the year, and to talk about your work after it has been done vs. while it is in progress. Annual reports are an opportunity for reflecting on your past year's work.
  • It is easier to write annual report when your all activity is divided into several projects. Try to focus on the activities you are done in each your project, which will greatly help you to make a general overview[1].

When to use

  • Use this pattern every year, at the end of your fiscal year (as you're working on your report), and throughout the year (as you prepare for it).
  • This pattern will be important to Wikimedia organizations, and especially to Wikimedia Chapters who are required to make reports. It can also be useful to those who make optional reports, such as user groups, allied organizations, and program or project leaders.



See also