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Are you using Infographics as reporting tools? You should be.

January 8, 2013

During National Business Intelligence (BI) Month, a number of top-notch infographics have caught my eye. These handy visuals are really reports, depicting data and details germane to a topic. But, they are also much more. They provide guidance about how to use the data. They tell a story. They provide business process guidance. In short, they’re quite helpful and you should be looking into how these can help your fundraising efforts.

I should note that I know this topic is not new. Infographics have been around for years and some folks have declared them irrelevant or unhelpful. However, any visualization of information that tells the story you need told can be valuable, so infographics likely have utility in your shop.

BWF Analytics Infographic

For example, our firm created a handy infographic (on the right) to present data from a survey we conducted on analytics. This image is really many reports in one. It presents the data in a logical order. In general, it is a useful guide to the topic of fundraising analytics, benchmarking for staff, and related information.

So, how should you set about creating an infographic?

  1. Determine your topic. Infographics can be great for 40,000 foot ideas as well as minutia, but generally not both.
  2. Find your data. What data do you have to display? What data would you like to go get?
  3. Lay out your story. The visual aspects of this process are important. Do you want the reader to “take it all in”, “follow along”, or just see some useful visual depictions of data and interpretation?
  4. Pick a infographic tool and get going. Many tools are out there. Check out this resource for some good and free tools.

Finally, I thought I’d take some of my own advice (for a change!). Below is the inaugural infographic. It uses data from a survey I did for my 2011 book An Executive’s Guide to Fundraising Operations. While my effort isn’t as amazing as this awesome college football bowl game pic, I created it in 20 minutes. Have any great infographic examples? Drop your links in the comments. Happy infographic-ing!

Data Quality and Quantity, v2

This pic presents data from Cannon’s 2011 book on fundraising operations, which shows how data quality expectations and perceptions vary.

  1. I love piktochart for creating infographics! I used it in a recent blog post (shameless plug: check it out here: )

    I’ve found that infographics are advantageous for their visual appeal alone. Even if all they do is capture someone’s attention better — not necessarily illuminating a point any more effectively — they can be valuable to use.

  2. Thanks, Mark. And, nice post with good advice about the value in waiting for the right hire. Your graphic conveys a central idea clearly and efficiently. I’ve seen a few of these for prospect portfolios, etc. and they just make boring and sometimes complicated data more clear.

  3. Mark DeFilippis permalink

    Nice piece, Mr. Cannon. Good fuel for thought here and timely as well.

    • Thanks GA Mark (as opposed to MN Mark above). Do you create things like this for your gift officers around the country. It would seem to be a good way to engage folks now matter their technical skills. I wonder if there is a “mail merge” for infographics, such that you could use speadsheet data to populate and customize specific per-person reports inside a general report/graphic. This works as subreporting in tools like Cognos, but I’ve not seen an option to create multiple infographics from the same data set. Let me know if you see anything interesting.

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