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Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Or as engineer Clarence Johnson stated, perhaps more memorably, “Keep it simple, stupid!” As the philanthropic community places more and more weight on data and evaluation in determining where to direct support, many nonprofits are looking for new ways to present complex evidence in a straightforward and succinct manner to catch and keep the attention of potential funders. While traditional charts and graphs may suffice, some have discovered a method of demonstrating their results that is both simple and visually appealing: infographics.

Infographics, or information graphics, are graphic visualizations of data and research, sometimes presented in an evolved form as interactive visualizations. These new forms of data presentation hold many benefits: they’re visually inviting; creative; simple; increasingly affordable; intellectually engaging; and, perhaps most important, memorable. Due to the rampant use of social media, when infographics target the correct audience and present the right information, it can mean increased website traffic and, consequently, an increase in giving.

Recently, The Chronicle of Philanthropy has focused more attention on the use of infographics and interactive visualization by nonprofits to attract attention from foundations and individual donors. According to The Chronicle, infographics have been used by nonprofits for multiple purposes. While organizations such as Feeding America use interactive visualizations to show where food deserts exist across the nation to demonstrate need to foundations and incite policy changes, other organizations, including A Child’s Right, have used infographics to illustrate current gaps in funding, making the case for specific programmatic support. Many nonprofits have also used interactive visualizations internally, to better understand the changing needs of their clients and how to tailor services in order to meet those needs.

While infographics are not effective for every purpose, the growth in the number and variety of cheap and free online tools and software available to create infographics affordably make it worth considering: can infographics and data visualization be used to demonstrate my organization’s need and impact more effectively?

To learn more about how other nonprofits and foundations have used infographics, check out these articles:

And here are some more affordable options for creating your own graphics: