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Annual Report Writing

WITNESS approached Catchafire in search of a professional who could help create a concise, visually compelling and online-friendly annual report.

The challenge

Annual reports are a large undertaking for any organization. WITNESS needed to find a professional with a fresh perspective who could distill vast amounts of sensitive information into something accurate and engaging.


  • Clear and effective copy for an annual report that illustrates the organization’s successes and plans for growth.
  • The copy should tell a compelling story about who WITNESS is, what they do and what impact they had during their 2013 fiscal year (July 1, 2012- June 30, 2013), as well as inspire stakeholders and prospects to support their work.

The match

  • WITNESS posts an Annual Report Writing Project.
  • Amy, a film professional and passionate supporter of WITNESS, applies to the project.
  • After a two-way interview call between Amy and WITNESS’ Senior Communications Manager, Matisse, both parties accept the match.

“I wanted to expand my experience with writing and look at moving towards a career in the nonprofit sector, specifically with a human rights nonprofit. I have been following WITNESS for years. Their work and mission is close to my heart.”
- Amy

The Solution

  • Matisse delivers relevant organizational materials such as previous annual reports, key documents on new and ongoing initiatives, monthly reports, blog posts, foundational and donor reports and pointed Amy to specific online pages to get a feel for their design partner’s work.
  • Matisse shares an outline for the annual report and any additional supporting materials such as last year’s statistics, financial statements, significant accomplishments, awards received, new and noteworthy grants as well as the complete list of supporters including names and donor levels.
  • Amy and Matisse meet to discuss communication styles, agree upon the outline and set deadline expectations.
  • Amy reviews all of the prep materials and identifies any information gaps.
  • Amy and Matisse meet to discuss prep materials, overall goals and desired tone and style for the copy.
  • Amy and Matisse brainstorm key messages, themes and content, and determine a time for delivery.
  • Amy distills the information into easily digestible copy and shares with Matisse.
  • Matisse provides feedback from key team members and works with Amy to incorporate it into the final draft.
  • After they have agreed upon the copy, Amy delivers a finalized, copy-edited version to Matisse who passes it along to her design team.

The Result

A comprehensive and compelling annual report that effectively communicates WITNESS’ global impact.

“Amy is somebody who has a good ability to intake what people are saying and distill the most important message from it. Amy helped to crystallize the very personal and powerful elements in very precise ways. The help that she provided was crucial; she brought more difficult-to-grasp stories to light.”
- Matisse

The Impact On Witness

Amy’s end result provided WITNESS with a template and process to use in Annual Reports to come. By simplifying their complex work into a digestible format, she is helping more people learn about the incredible work WITNESS is doing.

"Although the report introduces our work from last year, we are still focused on these areas for the next 18 months. It's useful and valuable both in the immediate future as well as the long term. These are stories that we will be able to continue to share long after they have happened."

"This report will be available via our website and different elements in it will provide a good reference to our work for a long time to come. This annual report is a great place for someone to easily access concrete examples of our work. A well-produced report is a great resource for someone new to our organization. Sometimes that's all you need to get people's interest."

The impact on amy

Amy’s positive experience with WITNESS made her a more conscious media consumer and inspired her to pursue a career in nonprofit communications. Today she continues to work with WITNESS as a volunteer.

“I cannot overstate the impact of this project. It gave me a clarity of direction. I told Matisse at the very beginning that I picked up this project because I’m going back to school and I know that I want to work with human rights nonprofits but that I wasn’t sure in what capacity. This project helped me to define my future career and education goals. Now I’m going back to school for a communications degree!”
- Amy

“I have been blown away by Matisse’s professionalism and expertise. She is a wonderful mentor and I intend to keep in touch with her. I’m still attending events that WITNESS hosts. I’ve volunteered with them since the project completed and I even told Matisse that I’d be interested in working on the annual report this coming year.”
- Amy

Amy’s 60-hour project resulted in $10K dollars saved for WITNESS.

The Organization
WITNESS uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. WITNESS empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.
The Volunteer
Amy is an associate producer and archive researcher working out of Brooklyn, NY. She is passionate about advocating for human rights and using her writing and media skills to contribute to internationally-focused nonprofit organizations. She’s interested in volunteer opportunities that will strengthen her skill set in community engagement and nonprofit administration.