- 67% of foundations use print and PDF annual reports, but only 9% use "interactive" versions.
- Harris Interactive data show news media are a more reliable source of information about foundations than annual reports for engaged Americans.
- In fact, the annual report's the last thing read by people seeking foundation information--the odds are 4 in 1000 than an engaged American will read an annual report.
- Little evaluation data exist to justify the ubiquity of annual reports: Only 3 of 20 foundations with $500 million or more in assets conducted reader surveys of annual reports.
The conversation included a variety of views from foundation communicators seeking to change that situation. One foundation communicator said, "We stopped doing an annual report in 2000 and the world didn't stop spinning," and another went to print-on-demand, only to find there was no demand. In at least one case, a foundation did survey a sample of its annual report readers and found they did want a print copy--an important reminder to follow your audience.
As for new-adapter versions of the old print annual report, the Heinz Endowments reports that its quarterly magazine includes one "annual report" issue that seems to solve the problems noted above (see its online "library" here). And in a brainstorming session, the German Marshall Fund--which convenes many policy conferences and experts--suggested a podcast version of an annual report to capitalize on the hours of recorded material captured during those sessions. (GMF also has a blog that captures ongoing conversations by and with its experts, another good way to avoid loading all your communications goals into one single, overworked vehicle.)