September 20, 2017
 
Women’s Fund of Western Mass. Annual Report Goes Electronic

Cover page of WFWM's inaugural electronic annual report
January 22, 2015 — Responding to its eco-minded constituency, the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts this year opted to produce an interactive, electronic annual report that can be accessed anywhere – saving four weeks of production time and thousands of dollars in printing, postage, and handling costs while improving donor relations.

“We place a high value on transparency and accountability and are always looking for ways to deliver that to our investors,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, chief executive officer of the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) since last summer. “While the print format would have been easy to create, we were compelled to offer something new that could be accessed from anywhere, anytime, was easy to use, and interactive.”

She said WFWM, based in Easthampton, is the first organization in western Massachusetts to produce an electronic annual report.

Going electronic saved about four weeks of print production time and gave the design team more flexibility: edits could be made up until a few days before final web publication. And, unlike a print product, any corrections could be made after publication, virtually instantaneously and at no cost.

The $4,200 saved by going electronic not only bolstered WFWM’s bottom line, but also helped strengthen relations with key groups.

“We continue to build trust with our donors and supporters that can see this report as a way we are keeping our administrative costs as low as possible so that every dollar they invest goes immediately into programming and funding of our core areas to serve local women and girls,” Barajas-Román said.

Electronic Version Offers Features that Hard Copy Reports Can’t Provide

As a product, the annual report goes beyond a downloadable PDF or PDF flip book. Audio and video components and hyperlinks bring the report’s “Power Up!” theme alive in a way that is not easily or inexpensively to do in hard-copy format. An embedded audio of an interview with the former CEO, animated visualizations of financials, mouse-overs that bring up text, and high quality graphics all help tell the Fund’s story

Since people spend less time online than they do with a printed document, content was kept short.

Being a web-based product, the report enables viewers to click a Donate button. Tracking and measuring capabilities also enable WFWM to learn track who's using the report, what they're viewing, how long they read the report, and if they link to the organization’s website.

“All of these metrics are baselines for next year, but what we've seen so far is very encouraging,” said Barajas-Román.

Distribution via email and social media links enabled the Fund to distribute the report easily and quickly to key donors, partners, and its board. For the few donors who are not online, a one-page printed summary was developed and sent via regular mail.

Response, so far, has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“Instead of having a report that usually stays on the shelf, we have an exciting tool that donors and partners want to use and explore,” Barajas-Román said.

Helping to make the whole process go smoothly was Ludlow-based Cardinale Design, described by Barajas-Román as well versed in the technology and “a dream to work with.”

With the 2014 report barely out the door, WFWM has started work on next year’s version with plans to have it be more interactive and include options for donor feedback and story sharing.

Since 1997, WFWM, which engages in grantmaking to support economic and social equality for women and girls in western Massachusetts, has awarded more than $2 million in grants to more than 150 nonprofits in the four counties of western Massachusetts.

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