You don’t often see the words “cool” and “annual report” in the same sentence. For the most part nonprofit annual reports are either “compliance documents” or highly polished brochures that donors flip through and then put in the recycling.

But a few nonprofits have been playing with new formats for annual reports that help donors better understand their organization. The key to an annual report being useful and compelling for a donor is that the report 1) be engaging, 2) tell the story of the organization and 3) explain the organization’s results and goals within the context of the organization’s story.

While a simple paper report can do all of the above, new technologies are helping some nonprofits up the engagement factor of their reports. One great example is the new annual report from VolunteerMatch.

[If the text is hard to read in the report or you are reading this in an email, click here to view a larger version]

The report is presented using the new, innovative presentation software called Prezi. In my public speaking, I’ve started using Prezi exclusively. One of the interesting elements about communication, is that how you present information is often as or more important that what you say. While this can of course be used to “spin” information, it can also be used to present information in ways that help the listener better understand what you are trying to say.

VolunteerMatch has a history of strong, donor centric communication. It isn’t enough for the social sector to move to a world where results are the focus. Results need to be given the same level of communication attention that fundraising is given.