Originally published in CharityVillage.com on June 27, 2012
Infographics are a visual representation of numerical data, interesting facts, or other important insights that the designer wants an audience to know about. That's the concept in a sentence, but I thought I'd whip up an infographic to explain infographics:
- They contain easily digestible pieces of information.
- They're simple to share on social networks.
- They're so pretty to look at!
Whether you personally love them or you're overwhelmed by them - infographics are a fun way to share your organization's message with your supporters online.
Infographics don't need a long article to explain how they work. It would be overkill to spend three thousand words describing a visual concept. Instead, let's look at some infographics used by organizations like yours!
How can your charity or nonprofit use visual techniques like these below to help your supporters understand your mission and goals?
Try them in an annual report
Annual reports are important to every organization, but they also have a reputation for dull or dry content. Progress, the annual report of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, used colourful infographics to explain recruiting for clinical trials. Can your organization use images to neatly summarize some of your quarterly or yearly insights too?
Try making a timeline
If your organization has a proud history you want to share, it's a great idea to visualize those milestones for your audience. Check out this Royal Mail timeline of important British inventions. Which cultural milestones would be interesting to supporters of your own cause? Do you have an anniversary coming up for either your organization or a signature event? Try using a timeline image to show the impact of your work over the years.
Try them for advocacy outreach
Wondering how you can explain to your designer why you want to turn your entire annual report into a series of graphics for better shareability on Pinterest? Don't worry, you may not need to design every page with colourful clipart and big numbers in giant fonts!
Think about the pieces of your marketing collateral where you would typically throw in a pie-chart or something similar. How can you spice up the way you explain your operating costs this year?
Think about the emails you send out after an event. Do you need a "Reflections from the CEO" in the content, or would a fun illustration of the top tweets for your event be a new way to thank and encourage your participants to join you next year?
Craft time: What do you need to make an infographic?
1. Carefully chosen information you want to share: What story do you want your infographic to tell? Which insights resonate most strongly with your supporters? Remember, some facts and figures may only be interesting internally.
For instance, is the raw number of people your organization served this year as "sticky" a piece of information as the dramatic percentage increase in people who came to your organization for help over the holiday period?
2. A design plan: Which colours, shapes and images appeal to you? Which information pieces will you make more prominent? Try sketching it out on paper before you even open your laptop.
3. Somebody to build the thing! (This one is often the stumbling block.)
Don't have a designer on staff?
Once you've plotted out an infographic, think about finding individuals in your network who can help you build it. If you are a small-shop nonprofit, you might not have a talented colleague who is a wizard with typography. You might also lack access to design software like Photoshop (or cost-effective alternatives).
Or, like me, you just might not be brilliant at making images!
No worries - Here's some suggestions if you are going outside your network for help:
1. Consider partnering with one of your official corporate sponsors to make a "wrap-up infographic" to share your successes after an signature event or campaign.
3. Many news outlets, blogs and online magazines (think Good Magazine) love to publish infographic content. Try reaching out to the groups writing about your area of expertise and offering to share new data that could be interesting to their readers.
DIY on the fly
To create a quick infographic related to data from Twitter or Facebook, try Visual.ly's Visually Create website. The platform pulls information from social network APIs to make templated graphics related to your organization's Facebook pages, Twitter handles, or special event hashtags.
Want to try plotting specific data? Take a look at Google's Public Data website. Google allows you to chart information from thousands of publically available data-sets and then export or publish it.
Now that you've spent this time reading about infographics, I guarantee you'll see them everywhere you go!
Don't forget to collect and save your favourites to inspire you when working on your own in the future. A great place to archive infographics that catch your eye? Pinterest, of course.
Check Artez Interactive on Pinterest and share your favourite infographics with us!