Infographics for Nonprofits … the Good; the Bad; the Ugly

in Integrated Multichannel Fundraising & Marketing,Marketing for Nonprofits,Storytelling

Infographics – like any other tool, channel, idea, etc. – have their place when used correctly.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy made a good point in an article about a month ago: Infographics can make data fun and informative.  I agree.

But there’s a catch.

The infographic has to be readable and tailored for the audience. That’s why I decided to share a few points for you and your graphic designer to consider when creating an infographic.

The Good – what I like about infographics for nonprofits

They’re intriguing, partly because they’re relatively new to the communication mix.

They tend to get people’s attention. (But can they keep it?)

They lend themselves to scanning. People can quickly find what interests them the most.

Done right, they can be fun. The graphics – drawings, pictures, cartoons – can lighten the reader’s experience as they engage with your valuable information.

They work especially well for presenting data, statistics, and other mind-numbing figures in a more digestible fashion.

Another possible use is as a story board. With clever drawings (or possibly photos), and the compelling text for each illustration … you could tell an engaging story. Use a child’s story book as the concept for the design.

Two examples:

1) In your welcome package this story board could highlight the history of your nonprofit. Or it could show all the different ways donors make a difference. But I recommend you also have the same info in a traditional letter, pamphlet or other print piece.

2) In an appeal it can outline how donors have helped a specific program grow and why you need them to upgrade their giving for the next need (but you still need the letter).

The Bad & the Ugly – what I don’t like about infographics

Far too much of the information is hard to read.

– Tiny font (even after enlarging the web image; but if it is in print then we don’t even have that option).

– Poor color choices; especially for the copy. For example: white font on a light blue background, or orange text on a black background.

Too much jammed into one infographic!!!!! It take 3 – 6 scrolls to read it all and if printed, it doesn’t fit on one page plus it’s still hard to read (e.g., small print and/or graphic).

Confusing and poorly organized. This is closely related to the previous bullet. Have people in different age groups – unfamiliar with the topic – read your infographic before you publish it. Can everyone get the gist of your key message in 5 seconds or less?

I often think developers of infographics focus on artistic creation instead of how to convey a clear message. This is BAD, BAD, BAD.

One-size-fits-all mindset. You don’t send the same letter to a prospect as you do a 10-year supporter. Nor do you send the same copy and tone in a letter/email to a 30-something as what’s sent to a 70-something. Infographics are no different.

Tailor the design and the content for different segments of your donor or member database. This doesn’t mean an entirely different infographic in every case. But tailored and personalized communications are a must in today’s fundraising market.

Not everyone likes infographics. For critical data, messaging, etc. you must use an integrated approach. Yes you send the info out via direct mail, email, social media, mobile, etc. But here integration also means sending it in multiple formats such as video, audio, readable text, illustrations, and so on. Give people choices on how they “consume” your content.

Infographics have their place. But please don’t risk annoying your donors, members, advocates and other supporters by churning out a poorly designed graphic that can’t be easily read or understood.

That means the fundamentals of clear, compelling, relevant and personalized communication still apply – even to infographics.

Don’t lose sight what the infographic is supposed to accomplish. What is the ONE prime message? What is the ONE thing it must achieve? With that written down, you can proceed to create infographics tailored for all your file segments. Finally, take care to avoid all of “the bad and the ugly” and focus on “the good.”

What do you like or dislike about infographics? Any nonprofit examples to share with us in the comment block?

Related posts:

How color impacts donors and members

What makes a compelling and memorable nonprofit story … storytelling

The risks of letting images dominate your nonprofit messaging