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Nonprofit Annual Report: An Insider’s Guide

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Published: Apr 29, 2024

Ever stared at your nonprofit annual report, feeling overwhelmed by the numbers and unsure where to begin? 

As a nonprofit organization, you understand the importance of transparency and accountability, but sometimes, deciphering your own financial and program data can feel like cracking a complex code.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the intricacies of a nonprofit annual report explicitly designed for organizations like yours. By the end of the guide, you’ll grasp the fundamentals of nonprofit annual reporting and gain insights into using your report as a powerful tool for donor engagement, stakeholder communication, and organizational growth.

What is an annual report for a nonprofit?

A nonprofit annual report is a formal document that organizations produce to provide a detailed account of their activities and financial performance over the preceding year. It serves as a communication tool to stakeholders, including shareholders, donors, members, employees, and the general public. 

Nonprofit annual reports typically include 

  • Financial statements,
  • Management discussions and analysis, 
  • Highlights of achievements, 
  • Goals for the future, and 
  • Other relevant information.

Nonprofit annual report requirements

As such, nonprofits are subject to certain reporting requirements to maintain transparency and accountability to their stakeholders. 

Here, we’ll outline the federal and state requirements for nonprofit annual reports in the United States.

Federal requirements for nonprofit annual reports

IRS form 990Most tax-exempt organizations must file an annual information return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) using Form 990. This form provides detailed financial information about the organization’s activities, governance, and compliance with tax laws.
IRS form 990-EZ or 990-NSmall nonprofits with gross receipts below $50,000 may be eligible to file a simplified version of Form 990, known as Form 990-EZ or Form 990-N (e-Postcard). These forms have less stringent reporting requirements but require organizations to disclose key financial information.
Audited financial statementsSome nonprofits may be required to submit audited financial statements to the IRS if they exceed certain revenue thresholds or their governing documents mandate it. Audited financial statements independently assess the organization’s financial position and compliance with accounting standards.

State requirements for nonprofit annual reports

Below is a table outlining state requirements for nonprofit annual reports. Each state may have different requirements and deadlines.

StateFiling frequencyDue dateFiling windowFee
AlabamaNot required
AlaskaBienniallyJulyApril – July$25
ArizonaAnnuallyAnniversary dateUp to 30 days prior$10
ArkansasAnnuallyAugust 1January 1 – August 1$0
CaliforniaBienniallyEnd of initial filing monthUp to 5 months prior$20/$25
ColoradoAnnuallyEnd of initial filing monthTwo months after$10
ConnecticutAnnuallyAnniversary date30 days prior$50
DelawareAnnuallyMarch 1January 1 – March 1$25
D.C.BienniallyApril 1January 15 – April 1$80
FloridaAnnuallyMay 1January 1 – May 1$61.25
GeorgiaAnnuallyApril 1January 1 – April 1$30/$40
HawaiiQuarterlyRegistration anniversaryJanuary 1 – March 31$2.50/$5
IdahoAnnuallyRegistration anniversaryPrior month$0
IllinoisAnnuallyPrior monthUp to 60 days prior$10+$1
IndianaBienniallyRegistration anniversaryUp to 90 days prior$20/$22
IowaBienniallyApril 1 (Odd years)January 1 – April 1$0
KansasBiennially6 Months after FYE$80
KentuckyAnnuallyJune 30January 1 – June 30$15
LouisianaAnnuallyAnniversary date30 days prior$10+$5
MaineAnnuallyJune 1January 1 – June 1$35
MarylandAnnuallyApril 15January 1 – April 15$0
MassachusettsAnnuallyNovember 1$15+$3.50
MichiganAnnuallyOctober 1$20
MinnesotaAnnuallyDecember 31January 1 – December 31$0
MississippiPeriodic90 days$25
MissouriAnnuallyAugust 31$10+$1.25
MontanaAnnuallyApril 15January 1 – April 15Waived
NebraskaBienniallyApril 1 (Odd years)January 1 – April 1$25+$3
NevadaAnnuallyAnniversary month90 days prior$50
New HampshireEvery 5 yearsEvery 5 yearsJanuary 1 – December 31$25
New JerseyAnnuallyPrior month30 days before/after$30+$3
New MexicoAnnuallyMay 15$10
New YorkNot required
North CarolinaNot required
North DakotaAnnuallyFebruary 1$10
OhioEvery 5 YearsRegistration anniversary$25
OklahomaNot required
OregonAnnuallyRegistration anniversary45 days prior$50
PennsylvaniaNot required
Puerto RicoAnnuallyApril 15$5
Rhode IslandAnnuallyMay 1February 1 – May 1$20+$2
South CarolinaNot required
South DakotaAnnuallyRegistration anniversary2 months prior$10
TennesseeAnnually1st day 4th month after FYE1st day of FYE month$20+$0.46
TexasPeriodicEvery 4 years$5
UtahAnnuallyEnd of initial filing month60 days prior$10
VermontBienniallyApril 1 (After 1st year)January 1 – April 1$20
VirginiaAnnuallyAnniversary month3 months prior$25
WashingtonAnnuallyAnniversary month45 days priorVariable
West VirginiaAnnuallyJune 30January 1 – June 30$25+$1
WisconsinAnnuallyEnd of registration quarterStart of quarter$25
WyomingAnnuallyRegistration anniversary120 days prior$25+$2
Source: Harbor Compliance

Nonprofit annual report templates

We’ve gathered examples of nonprofit annual reports you can use as templates or inspiration for crafting your own.

Nonprofit annual report templates: Print

Charity: Water

nonprofit-annual-report-charity-water

Charity: Water’s annual report is a visually stunning example of how to engage donors and supporters through storytelling and impactful imagery. The report highlights the organization’s mission, projects, and financial transparency in a compelling and easy-to-understand format.

What we like:

  • Beautiful design with captivating visuals and graphics.
  • A clear breakdown of financial information, including revenue, expenses, and project funding.
  • Geographical breakdown showcasing regions served and projects implemented.
  • Programmatic pillars outline the organization’s guiding principles and strategies.
  • Gratitude towards supporters, volunteers, and partners for their contributions.
  • A forward-looking statement expressing optimism and commitment to the mission.
  • Encouragement for readers to join the organization’s efforts and contribute to its mission.

American Red Cross

nonprofit-annual-report-american-red-cross

The American Red Cross annual report comprehensively overviews the organization’s humanitarian efforts, disaster response, and community services. It provides detailed insights into the Red Cross’s impact and achievements throughout the year, supported by data and testimonials.

What we like:

  • Detailed sections on disaster relief efforts, blood services, and community programs.
  • Infographics and data visualizations for easy comprehension of key metrics.
  • Recognition of donors, volunteers, and partners who support the Red Cross’s mission.
  • Personal stories and testimonials from individuals impacted by Red Cross services add a human element to the report.
  • Updates on innovative technology solutions developed by the Red Cross.
  • Commitment to sustainability, including efforts to reduce carbon emissions, increase sustainable supplies, and engage employees in green initiatives.

Save the Children

nonprofit-annual-report-save-the-children

Save the Children’s annual report provides a comprehensive overview of the organization’s global efforts to improve the lives of children through education, health, and emergency response programs. It features stories of children and families served by Save the Children, along with financial transparency and accountability.

What we like:

  • Focus on programmatic achievements and impact in education, health, and disaster relief areas.
  • Gratitude expressed towards supporters and partners for their contributions and commitment.
  • Emphasis on strategic goals and ongoing commitment to creating lasting change for children.

Nonprofit annual report templates: Web

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

nonprofit-annual-report-world-wildlife-fund

WWF’s annual report impresses with stunning visuals. It offers users an immersive experience, showcasing the organization’s conservation projects and achievements through compelling storytelling and data visualization.

What we like:

  • Breathtaking images of wildlife and habitats capture attention.
  • Testimonials from community members, partners, and stakeholders affected by WWF’s work.
  • Highlights of major achievements, including fundraising efforts and partnerships to support conservation goals.
  • Detailed breakdowns of key conservation projects and their outcomes, including statistics and data on wildlife protection and habitat restoration.
  • Recognition of donors, volunteers, and supporters for their contributions to WWF’s mission.
  • Updates on innovative solutions and technologies employed by WWF to address conservation issues.
  • Calls to action for readers to get involved, donate, or participate in WWF’s conservation efforts.

Girls Who Code

nonprofit-annual-report-girls-who-code

Girls Who Code’s annual impact report showcases the organization’s efforts to close the gender gap in technology and empower young women in STEM fields. The report highlights program outcomes, participant stories, and initiatives to drive social change.

What we like:

  • Highlights of program achievements, including the number of participants reached and impact metrics.
  • Testimonials from program participants and success stories of girls who have benefited from Girls Who Code.
  • Insights into the organization’s strategic goals and plans for future growth and impact.
  • Highlighting creative collaborations with high-profile figures like Doja Cat, demonstrating the organization’s ability to leverage popular culture to promote its mission.
  • Recognition in prominent media outlets indicates the organization’s influence and credibility, amplifying its message and reaching a wider audience.
  • Clear contact information is provided for partnership, press, and program inquiries, facilitating further engagement and collaboration.

Nonprofit annual report FAQs

What tax forms does a 501c3 need to file?

Nonprofit organizations recognized as 501(c)(3) entities must file Form 990 with the IRS annually. However, smaller nonprofits with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $200,000 or less can file Form 990-N (e-Postcard), while those with gross receipts between $50,000 and $200,000 and assets of $500,000 or less can file Form 990-EZ. 

Larger nonprofits with gross receipts over $200,000 must file the full Form 990.

How often should you send a donor impact report?

The frequency of sending donor impact reports can vary depending on the organization’s communication strategy and donor engagement plan. However, it’s generally recommended that they be provided at least once or twice a year to keep donors informed about the impact of their contributions.

Do 501c3 have to disclose financials to the public?

Yes, 501(c)(3) organizations must disclose certain financial information to the public. This typically includes making their annual tax returns (Form 990) and audited financial statements available for public inspection upon request.

When are annual reports due?

Annual report due dates can vary depending on state and organizational requirements. In general, nonprofits should file their annual reports with the appropriate state authorities by the deadline specified in their state’s regulations. 

Additionally, the IRS requires nonprofits to file their Form 990 tax returns annually by the 15th day of the 5th month after the organization’s fiscal year-end.

Which 990 form to file?

The specific 990 form a nonprofit organization should file depends on its gross receipts and other factors. Smaller nonprofits may be eligible to file Form 990-N or Form 990-EZ, while larger organizations must file the full Form 990.

What organizations are not required to file Form 990?

Some organizations, such as churches, integrated auxiliaries of churches, and certain governmental entities, are exempt from filing Form 990. Additionally, organizations with gross receipts below the threshold for filing requirements may also be exempt.

What is an impact report?

An impact report summarizes the outcomes and achievements of a nonprofit organization’s programs and activities. It typically includes information about the organization’s mission, goals, and activities and its tangible impact on its target beneficiaries or community.

Do nonprofits have a w9?

Nonprofit organizations may be asked to provide a Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification by entities with whom they do business. The W-9 helps the requesting party obtain the nonprofit’s correct taxpayer identification number (TIN) for reporting purposes.

Where can I find a Form 990 for an organization?

Form 990 filed by nonprofit organizations, is a public document and can be accessed through various sources. The IRS provides access to Form 990 filings through its online database, and organizations may also make their Form 990 available on their websites or through third-party platforms like Guidestar or Candid.

When are nonprofit tax returns due?

Nonprofit tax returns, typically Form 990, are due annually by the 15th day of the 5th month after the organization’s fiscal year-end. However, organizations may request an extension of time to file if needed.

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