Posted by Alex Vernon on

Three charities using beneficiary voices brilliantly in their annual reviews

How have two months gone by since I last blogged?  I’ll now attempt to make up for this misdemeanour by posting something that is, I hope, both interesting and useful…

As charity comms / fundraising / governance folk get round a table to start tackling the possibly much-dreaded task that is their annual review (or ‘impact report’ as they’re increasingly known), I’d like to highlight three charities that I think are doing a great job of it.

What does this trio have in common? They’ve all used beneficiary voices to powerful effect. And it is the voices of the people the charity works with, not page after page of aims and objectives, that will inspire supporters to keep supporting.

Parkinson's UK's 2011 Impact Report features beneficiaries talking simply and convincingly
Parkinson’s UK’s 2011 impact report features beneficiaries talking simply and convincingly

1. Parkinson’s UK – Our Impact 2011

What strikes me about this report is the authenticity of the beneficiary voices. Here, Ben isn’t speaking in grand terms about how the charity has transformed his life / given him new hope / inspired him to get up in the morning etc. Instead, he’s speaking simply and honestly about general day-to-day support.

“My wife and I go to our local group – Merton Branch – in south London. It’s very good and there’s always something to do. At the last meeting we had a pampering evening. It was great to have a treat! We both had a massage and my wife had her nails done.”

I think the simplicity of Ben’s words makes them convincing. Here’s Parkinson’s UK’s report.

Hope and Homes for Children's annual report includes sad quotations as well as happy ones
Hope and Homes for Children’s annual report includes sad voices as well as happy ones

2. Hope and Homes for Children – Out of sight, out of mind: Annual Review 2011

This report successfully uses a mix of sad and upbeat quotations to demonstrate the crucial ‘before’ and ‘after’ (painting a picture of life before and after the charity’s intervention).

Before: “It feels unsafe when you are left alone, when no one loves you, when people only insult or yell at you,” says Dima, who lives in an institution in Ukraine.

After: “I do not feel uncared for. I am loved,” says Maxim, a teenager with special needs who has been reunited with his family in Belarus.

Though annual reviews should generally be celebrations of a charity’s achievements, they should also highlight the challenges people face – the ongoing need – so that they keep inspiring support. I certainly want to know what’s happened to Dima. Here’s the full report.

Sue from Crisis tells it to you straight
Sue from Crisis tells it to you straight

3. Crisis – Standing strong in a time of crisis: Impact Report 2011/12

With this thought-provoking quotation from Sue, Crisis reaches out to its readers in a way that is quite unsettling:

“I’m really passionate about homeless people now as I was a snob before [this happened to me], but you need to get out there and explain to people that it could happen to anybody. People live in their own little bubble and they think it’ll never happen to them, but most people are about a month’s salary away from losing their homes and becoming homeless.”

This compelling ‘it could happen to you’ angle could be a relevant and useful one for many charities. Read more from Crisis here.

If you know of any other organisations doing great things with beneficiary voices in their annual reviews, please do share them in the comments box below.

And if you think your charity could benefit from some beneficiary voices for your annual review or any other communications materials, please get in touch – I’d love to help.