A New Look at the Old Year
Houston TX USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 42 No. 1, February-March 2006, p. 8.
Each year Groups in our Area are asked to report our activities for accountability and to provide statistics for La Leche League International. As I was pulling together this information for 2003, I received in the mail several annual reports from other nonprofit organizations to which I donate. Each had brief information about the group's activities for the year, along with a list of all donors. I had an "Aha!" moment as I realized that it would be easy to create a simplified version of this for our La Leche League Group.
I used our existing Group newsletter as a format for the report. It had a masthead with the LLL logo and a two-column-per-page article layout. Within this shell document, I started to "write" the articles. Foremost was an article listing our Group's members for the year and thanking them for their support. (Note: be sure to let members know before publication that their names will be listed; some may prefer to remain anonymous.) This acknowledgement gives another "pat on the back" to those who contributed financially to the Group. It also gives an added incentive to those who have been attending meetings but haven't joined; perhaps it can inspire them to join and get on next year's list.
Next was a brief report of our outreach effectiveness. Numbers of mothers and children attending meetings and other contacts were summarized from the Group's monthly activity reports. We also mentioned the things our Group Leaders did in addition to our Series Meetings -- listing all of our Enrichment Meetings and our outreach activities.
Then we prepared a summarized financial report. Since we rely upon our Group members for financial support, it is nice to inform them how we spent their monies. We were already keeping a spreadsheet of our annual financial report data, so it was easy to summarize the categories from the monthly worksheets and then produce graphs of income and expenses. We cut and pasted these into the report, making a nice visual to go with the text.
As you can tell, there wasn't much "writing" involved. Almost all the information already existed elsewhere; it just needed to be incorporated into the report's format. We sent the 2003 annual report via email (no cost) to all the mothers on our Group's announcement email list. This list included both members and non-members. We had extra print copies available at meetings. Feedback on the document was positive, so we planned to make it an annual feature. As such, we streamlined our monthly tracking to make it even easier to produce the report at the end of the year. This required only small modifications to our treasury spreadsheets to include member names and contact data.
Each year the articles are slightly different. For the 2004 report we included an item about the LLLI Membership Challenge. We sent the annual report via email a few days before our January meeting. At that meeting, five mothers bought memberships at the sign-in desk! I believe the annual report has really helped to charge up our Group's members and encourage new memberships.
This year we did a mailing to local health care professionals for World Breastfeeding Week. We provided Group information and added a request for donations at various support levels. We look forward to acknowledging these donors in our 2005 annual report.
The final benefit of preparing the report is internal: it is so exciting for us as Group Leaders to realize just how much we accomplish each year! I hope you will be inspired to do an annual report highlighting all the activities of your Group's year.
Editor's Note: If you would like a copy of the Group's 2004 Annual Report, it is posted in the files section of the Membership Ideas discussion on the Community Network. You can also email Anne at achutton at houston.rr.com.