2012 Annual Reports

2012 Annual Reports
Have you read your own county annual report from last year from start to finish? Have
you read annual reports in the counties you have programming responsibilities? Others
in your region? Why not? Are they too long, too dull, too wordy as well as too boring?
This is the year to write annual reports that stakeholders (and you) will take the time to
read. The annual report needs to be the best looking, most polished, most professional
document coming out of your office.
1. Make your annual report work hard. In addition to meeting legislative requirements,
use it to:
 Recruit extension council members
 Recruit candidates for vacancies in your office – office manager,
paraprofessionals, faculty and volunteers
 To support your budget request to the County Commission
 Have available throughout the year in your office
 Answer the question, “…so what do you do around here anyway?”
2. When there are county and state budget problems, annual reports are among the first
documents to be used to ask that budget decisions be reconsidered. There is no time
to polish it then.
3. Annual reports are written by people who represent the University of
Missouri and, as such, good communication skills are important and
expected. Don't embarrass yourself. If in doubt, look it up. Use of the
AP Stylebook (2009) for reference is suggested by the University. Help is
also available online at extension.missouri.edu/staff/marketing/style.html
Punctuation matters and it may save lives!
Let's eat, Grandma.
Let's eat Grandma.
4. Information in annual reports should be county specific. The report is on
what your county accomplished in that year. Although you may serve more than one
county, each county's achievements were probably different, and their
annual reports should also be different. The same report, word for word, used
multiple years is also suspect.
5. Reports should focus on participants - what they learned, how it made a
difference in their lives and how the community, state, etc., benefit from
their participation. Avoid reporting on what "I" did and focus on the
program participants. Often a person just needs to add one more sentence to include
the public value (how people that didn’t attend the programming benefit).
6. Do not use ampersands (&) or abbreviations. Identify acronyms after the first use (if
you can't avoid using them). Here is an example: "At the Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) we have lunch at noon. DNR people are always hungry."
Small print makes a report hard to read
and text from edge to edge of the page will discourage
8. It is more difficult to write short, succinct, meaningful reports than lengthy, rambling
9. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Spell check is not sufficient. Spell check put in the
word “abort” for “about” in a 4-H report, for example. Don’t rely on spell check
10. It is still true that a picture can be worth 1,000 words. Photos need to be primarily of
county people – the report is how people (not things) benefit from Extension