Thursday, February 14, 2013

Charity can’t decide whether annual report should be a glossy whitewash of the truth or just something icky that like a cold sore or a pimple on your nose

Scene from Last year's Annual Report -- Too much?

Metro’s largest charity is having a hard time deciding what this year’s annual report should look like. The Metro Community Foundation has another annual report due in June and can’t decide whether it should be propaganda or just something icky to be avoided, like a cold sore or a pimple on one’s nose.

“This year, we’ve had a hard time making up our minds on the annual report,” said Foundation Executive Director Spoolely Snidely. “Last year, after much debate we went with a glossy whitewash of the truth that was so slick that some of our donors wanted to make it into a Hollywood movie. This year, we’re thinking twice about that strategy, not only because most of what we said wasn’t true but also because it took so much effort to make.”

Last year’s annual report, entitled “Together, we achieved tomorrow’s dreams”, was a 60 page glossy document that used some of the most expensive stock images and design available. Costing more than $100,000, the report, and its accompanying website, social media, DVD and the one hour “Behind the Scenes: the Making of our Annual Report” movie, staring Lindsay Lohan, was highly successful.

“We gave this thing out to everybody, and it made us appear to not only be a charity worthy of donations, but also to be god-like creatures that had super-powers and the courage of lions,” said Snidely. “In fact, my part in the movie was played by an animatronic, talking lion who was voiced by Sarah Palin. It was just too much.”

The report said very little about what the charity did, how it spent its money or how effective it was and instead told stories about how it had saved the world by giving grants to run local soccer programs and helped new parents buy their first booties for baby.

“People started paying way too much attention to us. They wanted to know when our next ‘miracle’ would take place. And many stopped giving because we had claimed that we had solve almost every problem facing Planet Earth,” said Snidely. “That was bad.”

New VP Financial Wendell Badhair was one of the people advocating for change in their year’s report. He told Snidely that annual reports should be treated much like diarrhea – it’s something you should just quietly clean-up without drawing much attention to.

“Annual reports are just terrible. Everybody reading them wants to know all the stuff you’ve been doing, and I just don’t think we should tell them. Like, it’s not their charity, it’s ours. So, bug off. That’s what I’m thinking,” he said.

His idea is to publish a short four page document with financials that offers information completely out of context that no one but the VP Finance of the charity will understand.

“With my plan, we can say we gave complete disclosure and yet no one will be able to heads or tails of it because most of the time no one understands me anyways,” he said.

The communications manager who argued for transparency and thorough reporting, both positive and negative, was terminated and was replaced by a communications coordinator who makes 30% less.

“We can’t be telling people what we do around here,” said Snidely. “They’d never give.”