A conversation with Heather Luca, Chief Communications Officer.
Welcome to our first Customer Spotlight! For our inaugural interview, we reached out to our client Heather Luca of Results for Development (R4D), a nonprofit based in Washington, DC. Read her interview below for her background with the organization, advice on annual report development, and nonprofit marketing trends she’s seeing in the industry.
1. Tell us about your position at Results for Development and what working there means to you.
I joined Results for Development in January 2016 as the chief communications officer. Results for Development is a nonprofit organization that works arm-in-arm with the governments of many low- and middle-income countries to increase access to high-quality and affordable health care and education. Both are essential for helping people escape poverty and reach their full potential. It’s my job to share Results for Development’s mission and impact with the world.
2. You recently launched both a print and digital version of R4D’s Annual Report. What were your purpose and goals behind the release of your new Annual Report efforts?
Although some communications professionals are opting not to do annual reports these days, I think they’re an important communications tool. They capture so much information in one place—your organizational vision, the breadth and depth of your impact, your partners, your Board of Directors, and your financials—making it the perfect product to introduce your organization to anyone who is unfamiliar. An annual report is also a great way to show existing partners and donors the impact you’re achieving together. To this end, we worked with Orange Element to develop a beautiful, highly graphic email featuring the online version of our annual report, which we sent to our partners and donors just before Thanksgiving expressing our gratitude. The email was very well received and had an above average open and click-through rate.
3. What’s your advice to other nonprofits seeking to create their first Annual Report?
I have three pieces of advice for nonprofits that are thinking of creating their first Annual Report: (1) Get started right away! Producing an annual report always takes longer than you think it will. (2) Make it scannable. People are busier than ever and no one (except your mom) will read your entire annual report cover-to-cover. The best way to make your annual report inviting is to include a lot of headlines, sub-heads, pull-quotes, photo captions, infographics and maps. (3) Include great photography (and avoid stock imagery whenever possible). Studies show that articles with photos outperform those without. People love to look at photos, so give them what they want and make reading your annual report an enjoyable experience.
4. What initiatives, that you can share, are you most excited about for R4D in 2017?
In 2017, Results for Development will work to advance universal health coverage (affordable, high-quality health care for everyone); we will advocate for increased and more efficient spending on nutrition; we will work to end child deaths from pneumonia by increasing access to highly effective, low-cost treatments; we will work to mobilize domestic resources for the issues above and many more, including education; and we will work to get more kids in school and to ensure that they are actually learning.
5. What trends do you expect to see (or are currently seeing) in the nonprofit marketing landscape?
Video is becoming more and more important for storytelling. And the best videos are the ones that recognize that we’re all constantly being bombarded with content. Videos need to quickly deliver a payoff—they need to be fast-paced, short and interesting.
6. How do you believe agencies and nonprofits can best work together?
I’ve worked with a lot of agencies over the years, and based on experience I would say that frequent, honest and open communication is the key to a healthy relationship between an agency and a nonprofit.
7. What influenced your organization to work with Orange Element?
When I joined Results for Development, the organization already had a long-standing relationship with Orange Element and I was impressed with Orange Element’s work. I also checked out ONE.org’s online annual report, which Orange Element produced, and immediately knew we should work with Orange Element on ours.
Do you need help on your next Annual Report or another publication? Contact us now to learn how Orange Element can help.