Since this is the most important document that your company will create all year, you should treat it as such. An annual report can contain storytelling, insightful commentary, heartfelt letters to shareholders, and rich data. Unfortunately, many are simply unapproachable. They are long, wordy documents that employees and stakeholders are likely to scan for highlights rather than actually read. They do, however, contain countless opportunities for visuals that can arise from storytelling and data. In-depth commentary can still exist, but infographics can help break up the text and highlight the areas and points to which readers should direct their attention.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s (MJFF) 2010 Annual Report is a great example of how to communicate stories and messages through illustration and infographics. Column Five created a series of five individual illustrations to be included in the report, each to explain a concept behind the MJFF’s unique approach toward Parkinson’s disease research. Figure 6.7 is an illustrated diagram showing how the MJFF works to use drugs that the FDA has already approved, thus saving the time and money needed to approve new drugs. This type of information helps to inform MJFF donors of the important parts of their strategic approach—information that might have been lost in paragraphs of text. Note that the illustrations in this example were designed to supplement the body text of the report, not replace it entirely. They bring ...

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