Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Six Good Nonprofit Infographics and What Makes Them Good

This week's examples of good nonprofit infographics was put togther by Madeleine Hammond. Madeleine is a marketing executive at Skeleton Productions - one of the UK's leading video production companies.

Robyn here. So what makes a good infographic? Lots of things, but in a general way, the most important - especially for a small nonprofit with limited budget - are simplicity and story flow. If you make the data easy to understand and everything in it leads the reader's eye through to the logical conclusion, then you've probably got a winner. Here are six infographics Maddie chose:


Ah, Movember. The month where men are sponsored to don furry facial friends in order to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer.Year on year, this simple yet innovative idea generates incredible coverage, a ton of money and an array of impressive moustaches. Given the’pleasing’ nature of ‘tasches, an infographic seemed the most natural way of communicating the data. Capitalising on the eccentricity the charity is beloved for, the Movember Infographic manages to be both amusing and informative.

Amnesty International

To mark their 50th anniversary, Amnesty International released a series of infographics charting their growth and significant moments in human rights history during this period.
The collection, designed by AI’s Jennifer Bradshaw, aims to explain some of the issues Amnesty International is most passionate about, from maternal health to the abolition of the death penalty. This visual depiction of Amnesty’s fight really helps bring the cause back to a real, touching level.

Charity Water

Back in September 2010, Charity Water released this infographic as part of their ‘Your Birthday can Change the World’ campaign. In 2006, the charity had the idea to ask friends to give up their birthdays and ask for donations instead of gifts, the intention being that all the money raised would go into providing clean water supplies for developing countries, and you - instead of the latest iPod or a new pair of shoes - would get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing you really had made a difference. 

Each year their campaign grows, and this infographic is a brilliant way of demonstrating how one selfless act can make a huge difference.

Back in 2012, children’s charity Barnardos released this infographic to explain the Children’s Referendum, which was passed in Ireland on November 10th. The purpose of the referendum was to  show how much Ireland values children by strengthening the protections for them in the heart of Irish law. The infographic was an attempt to break down the referendum, to show how it would help children across the country.


Sometimes, a simple approach is the best one. Particularly when you are dealing with a topic as sensitive as suicide. For C.A.L.M - The Campaign Against Living Miserably - the figures were powerful enough to garner attention, the design merely emphasized it. 

Here they discuss the shocking suicide statistics, the combination of font style, layout and yellow & black contrast making this a visual statement that demands attention.

Water Aid

In preparation for the 2012 World Leaders meeting, UK-based charity Water Aid turned to infographics as a means of explaining how water works. In a clever and visually stimulating design that is relevant to their cause, the need-to-know facts are linked stated in bold text that is linked by water pipes.

It’s an attention-grabbing design that communicates the message in an easy-to-digest manner. 

Robyn again - The biggest takeaway here is that the data must be easily-digestible; something that design should support, not overwhelm. If the placement doesn't further understanding the information, then it's not helping.

Do you have examples of great infographics or questions about how to make yours better? Share in the comments.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Telling Your Nonprofit's Stories Visually

Urban Bar Chart [Explored]
Urban Bar Chart [Explored] (Photo credit: ron.diel)
Humans are wired to process pictures. Scientists previously thought it took 1/10th of a second for us to recognize a picture, but have recently found that we're actually a lot faster at it than they had thought. Data can be complicated, hard to digest, and difficult to recall, but organizing the information visually can make it easier to remember.

We're all familiar with looking at data in a spreadsheet, seeing connections in a Venn diagram, or comparing information via bar charts. But in these days of information coming at you faster than you can digest it, modern infographics can help you make your point more clearly, making it stand out from the rest.

So what do you need to keep in mind when putting together an infographic?

  • Simplicity
  • Story Flow
The best infographics are simple. One of the best ways to learn something is to imagine you're teaching it to someone else. Use the simplest language possible and strive to make the graphics easy to understand. Here's a nice one from Fuzebox on how multitasking can actually impede productivity (sorry about the overlap - Visually's embed feature and Blogger don't seem to play well together):

Story Flow
While Fuzebox's infographic is graphically appealing, you don't have to be a graphic artist to present information in a graphic form. What's important is the information and the flow. Even in graphic form, you're telling a story. In an infographic, the story is visual and must lead the readers' eyes through to the conclusion. Take a look at this very simple graphic using just a bar chart:

Orientation Counts
Though these two graphics are very different in presentation, in one way they are the same: they both present their information vertically. Remember that most of your readers will be scrolling down a screen - no one likes to have to scroll horizontally. What else makes a good infographic? Let me know what you think is important in the Comments.

Next week we'll have a guest post, presenting some examples of good nonprofit infographics.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Social Communication Through Your NP's Mailbox

Image via
It's often hard to get back in the swing when you've been out of the office for several days, or even a week or two. Especially if you've also been away from the inbox. So now you've got to ramp up your social media effort and wrangle all of those emails sitting there. No wonder people post "It's Monday" pictures.

But I was happy to find something that can make Mondays, and any other day a little better. It's a Chrome Extension for Gmail, Yahoo mail, and Outlook called PowerInbox.
Note: I don't have any association with PowerInbox at all. This is purely my opinion.
Here's the list of options:

My favorite of these is Preview Apps, which makes your email interactive.

You connect it up to the social networks you use and you're able to add, follow, or otherwise deal with new business, all without leaving your inbox.

For example, I connected PowerInbox to my Twitter account. Now, when I get a new follower notice, I can click on the email and see the details and decide whether or not to follow back:

And I don't have to go to Twitter at all.

Besides making it easier to actually see what's going on without having to go anywhere, you can add their sidebar option and be connected within your mailbox:

While you're still rolling through your emails, you can keep an eye on your most used social network feeds and respond as quickly as you need to.

Other features include security icons - if it's from Twitter, the Twitter icon will display next to the email, so you can be more sure that it's not a spoof. Two features in beta are unsubscribe and compose. When you hover over newsletter email or email from another organization, you'll see a little 'unsubscribe' button. You can click on it to go directly to their unsubscribe without having to go into the message itself to find the unsubscribe link. This has already saved me a bunch of time. With 'compose', you can add interactive content to your emails. For example, my email signature includes a link to an anthology in which I have a story. When I used 'compose', a picture of the cover of that book, with a link to its Amazon page was included as part of my email.

I actually chose to disable 'compose' because it made creating an email a very slow process. I hope that this feature is improved in the next release, because it could be very useful.

There's also a Developer mode, but I don't recommend getting into that unless you're a programmer.

Obviously (as my experience with compose shows), the product is not without blemishes, but it has great potential for allowing a busy nonprofit staffer to handle social media chores with less hassle and in less time. If you're interested in PowerInbox, check it out in the Chrome Webstore. If you're using it, let me know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

All We Are Saying, Is Give Twitter a Chance

Twitter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's been a long time since I heard the kind of criticism of Twitter that I used to hear, say circa January 2008, when I joined. Now everyone just seems to accept that Twitter is a thing, though for a lot of them it seems to mean Twitter is a thing for newscasters or comedians to reference when someone in the public eye screws up big-time. Although more people understand Twitter is probably not going to go away, even the cachet of assisting in the Arab Spring in Egypt hasn't made it more attractive to those who long ago decided it wasn't worthwhile.

But, if that's you (and your small nonprofit), it might be time to re-evaluate your thinking.

I had several pieces of good reasoning for this, but then along came Adam Grant, writing on LinkedIn, and he stole all my good reasons (and then some). So, I'm going to return the favour by sending you over to his article. I think you'll appreciate his reasons more than mine because he's a convert. And since he starts his article with his reasons for being anti-Twitter, you may find yourself agreeing with him before he destroys his own arguments.

Adam Grant - Why I Was Wrong About Twitter

But before you go, here's one reason Adam didn't talk about - Twitter is great for having short, meaningful conversations with people who get what you do because they do it, too. And we can all use a camaraderie boost now and then.

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