Taking a More Dynamic Approach to Annual Reports: An Example from the Kapor Center for Social Impact

Cedric Brown, managing partner of the Kapor Center for Social Impact (previously the Mitchell Kapor Foundation), admits that he rarely spends more than 30 seconds looking at annual reports. While attracted to the glossy design and interesting stories, he simply isn’t willing to put in the time required to delve into the substantial content in most annual reports. As a result, Brown wanted to create something that reflected the Center’s values, style, and approach to work that would be simple to digest.

In 2011, Brown oversaw the production of one of the first foundation video annual reports. The video was relatively short (about 10 minutes), and told a story with a narrative thread that encompassed the foundation’s work over the previous year. Writing on the Glasspockets’ blog, Transparency Talk, Brown said that he quickly received enthusiastic responses. “When we distributed the video through emailing it and posting it on the website’s home page, I hadn’t expected to get the kind of positive, WOW! reviews that came back to us,” Brown wrote. “Some of our community partners expressed appreciation for getting the pithy information in an entertaining format (and a little hip hop beat in the background never hurts).”

The Kapor Center has since produced two more video annual reports. Brown wrote that he’s now a believer that video is the way to go for annual reports. He offered these tips to other foundations who might want to connect with stakeholders using video:

  • Write a narrative that outlines your organization’s mission and framework.
  • Use video or photos of grant recipients and partners to help tell your story.
  • Make use of the technology you have. Videos do not have to be fancy or polished. Funders can do interesting work with freeware and flip cam or similar video cameras. It is just important to be neat (aesthetically) and tell a good story.

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