Doing It Right! United Way of Camden County (Camden, NJ)

Many United Ways produce some type of annual report to their community. These annual reports range from as simple as a one-page letter, to as big and complicated as an annual report for a Fortune 500 company. No matter how big or small, an annual report is worthless if people don’t take the time to read it. One annual report worth reading comes from United Way of Camden County, in Camden, New Jersey.

What are they doing right?

First, it is clear from the title, “Ten Things You Can Do to Advance the Common Good,” that this annual report is about “you.” Throughout the entire annual report, phrases like: “your community investment,” “you make the difference,” “your gift is helping to build a stronger community,” and “you have answered the call,” put the reader first. The focus on you as a reader makes it more likely that this annual report will actually get read. Most United Way annual reports include much of the same information found in the United Way of Camden County annual report, but other annual reports say, “United Way did this” or “United Way did that,” with the focus on United Way. This annual report works because the focus is on the most important person of all – you!

Second, whether you are a donor, volunteer, or a community member who happened to see a copy of the annual report on a waiting room table, there is something in this annual report for you. The first three sections of the annual report make it clear how you can give, advocate, and volunteer in Camden County through United Way. Even if you had never heard of United Way of Camden County before picking up their annual report, it would be clear to you how to get involved after reading their annual report. Some United Way annual reports are solely for donor recognition purposes, with page after page of donor names in various giving categories. This annual report from United Way of Camden County is a great example of how you can engage people in the work of United Way, while also recognizing donors.

Third, we believe all communication from United Ways should include some statistics about the issues and results, stories about people who have been helped, and how trustworthy and accountable United Way is to the community. There are statistics, stories, and trust and accountability in this annual report from United Way of Camden County. Not every United Way annual report includes stories, but especially for annual reports that are longer like this one, there is no excuse not to include stories like those about Emily, Cynthia, and Jose, which allow people to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”
This annual report from United Way of Camden County is a great example of an annual report that is written for the most important person – you, calls everyone to action even if you have not yet supported United Way of Camden County, and does so with a blend of statistics, stories, and trust and accountability. As you work on your annual report for 2011, keep in mind how United Way of Camden County has made their annual report an annual report worth reading. United Way of Camden County, you are Doing It Right!