Early in my career, I had the wonderful experience of working with three very different nonprofit organizations. My love for aquatic life led me to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, where I taught classes about penguins and whales to K12 students. Later, I did a variety of conservation focused projects for nonprofits in Ecuador and Malaysia. These nonprofits were run by a small staff with maybe a marketer or two (who were also responsible for other roles as well). Very often, I was working directly with the founders. One of the biggest challenges, I learned, was how to leverage limited resources for the biggest impact.
It turns out that using nonprofit infographics as part of your campaigns can be a very impactful and cost effective tactic. Many nonprofits are already using infographics to engage and inform their community. But where do you start? How can you use infographics to promote your cause and tell your story.
To answer these questions, the research team at Venngage Labs have come up with a simple guide to the 5 types of must-have infographic templates your nonprofit needs.
- Problem or Pain Infographic
- Unique Solution Infographic
- Impact Infographic
- Annual Report Infographic
- Campaign Infographic
We’ll explain each type of infographic below and show you some real world examples. We’ll also include tips for you to create your own infographic in Venngage, our free infographic maker.
1. Problem or Pain Infographic
This is an infographic that focuses on the pain point or problem your nonprofit is solving. This is the #1 must-have infographic – your problem statement is how you connect with your community. Usually, the problem statement is something that is articulated in the mission of your nonprofit. But how do you communicate the problem statement clearly in an infographic to engage your audience?
Show or Chart the Problem in Numbers
If you have data that is compelling about the problem, then one obvious way is to visualize the problem with a chart or if the number is impressive enough, the best way is just to show it in big fonts. Here is an example from Buildon about the Global Education Crisis:
Use Contrast and Comparisons
The best way to add context to the problem is to compare or contrast it to something else for impact. Bringing in context to your data will help connect the pain points. For example, if you want to highlight the lack of funding of a particular disease, one way is to compare it with the funding other diseases receive:
Challenge your Audience
Challenging your audience’s Three Bs (beliefs, behaviors and belongings) is one of the sure ways to engage them. Sometimes, you have to take people out of their comfort zones. Here is another example from the Humane Society about the problem one of their campaigns is raising awareness for (click on the image to view the full infographic. Fair warning, it’s got some challenging visuals and stats)
Position the problem in an unconventional or surprising manner
If you can position your problem statement in a manner that is both surprising and unique, you will connect with your audience. This is hard to do, but good infographic copy is all about positioning. Here is a classic example from the Gates Foundation on the problem of Malaria. It asks a simple question but provides a surprising answer and highlights the problem they are trying to solve.
2. Unique Solution Infographic
After everyone knows about the problem you’re solving, the second must have infographic you need is how your nonprofit has a unique solution to the problem (another term commonly used is the unique value proposition). The better you can articulate your organization’s strengths and how unique or different it is, the more compelling your story becomes.
For example, one of No Kid Hungry’s unique solutions to ending childhood hunger is to provide a healthy breakfast at schools. In the infographic below they highlight how breakfast really can change a child’s life.
Here’s another example from World Vision, where you can donate a goat as a gift to a needy family. This infographic shows you how much a goat can produce for a family. It’s a unique solution with a big impact (and not something obvious initially, at least to me)
What is your nonprofit’s unique solution? Think about how you can create an infographic to communicate this to your prospects.
3. Impact or Success Infographic
The third infographic you need is an impact or success infographic that focuses on the impact, success stories and key metrics of your nonprofit. The main purpose of this type of infographic is not to gloat, but rather, it’s to assure your members that their contributions are having an impact.
The infographic below from Give Local America shows the effectiveness of their campaign last year, which was the biggest day of giving in America. (Cilck on the image to view the full infographic with all the interesting details and data)
While aggregate data about your organization’s impact is great, you should also share some personal stories. These views from the frontline allow your users to connect with the people your nonprofit is helping. They can also be very powerful emotionally, like this one from Possible about how they provided care to Nirajan, one of their patients.
4. Annual Report Infographic
As a nonprofit, you will probably publish an annual report for your members summarizing the year’s work and thanking them for their support. The traditional annual report is quite an undertaking and may be overwhelming for a small nonprofit. Why not try producing an infographic annual review instead? An infographic report has advantages over the traditional report in that your readers can read it easily and share it on social media, extending your reach organically.
Pick a few of your key metrics to highlight last year’s success. Every organization will have their own metrics, but the metrics should cover the impact made (success metrics such as #families helped, amount donated, positive outcomes…etc) details about impact (demographic of people impacted, geography of impact,..etc) and financials (funding raised, expense categories, effectiveness of delivery,..etc).
Here is an example from the Student Advocacy 2012 Report (click on the image to view the source and full infographic)
Blackbaud is a software vendor for nonprofits and their annual report infographic is also a good example. Click on the image to see the full version.
5. Campaign Infographic
The fifth must-have infographic nonprofits should use is the Campaign Infographic. These are campaign specific infographics that can be used to promote your campaigns. The main purpose of the campaign infographic is to get your members to share and spread the word, create some buzz and PR, and hopefully increase your chances of hitting your goals.
Any campaign infographic should include the basics of the campaign: what is the campaign about, how do people participate, what is the time frame, how do people share (ie, #hashtags), and clear call to actions like how to donate (if you’re fundraising) and, of course, your nonprofit logo to increase brand awareness. And try and make it fun and interesting while you’re at it.
Here’s an example from ALS’s famous Ice Bucket challenge campaign:
Keep up the Buzz with Periodic Campaign Status Updates
One of the most effective means of doing periodic and continuous communication on the campaign is by creating a campaign dashboard with periodic status updates. Here is an example from Kiva‘s Impact Report, which is updated hourly.
Although Kiva updates its numbers hourly, you can update yours within a larger time interval, such as weekly. With Venngage, you can link a Google Sheet and any chart and all you have to do is update the spreadsheet and refresh your infographic for automatic updates.
Remember Your Call to Actions
Don’t forget to include clear call to actions in your infographics. One of the most surprising thing we noticed after looking at hundreds of nonprofit infographics was the lack of call to actions on them. Just to be clear, adding your website or email or phone number at the bottom of the infographic is not what we consider a clear call to action. A clear call to action is something like asking the viewer to sign up for a newsletter, to donate now by clicking on the link, to share the infographic on Twitter (with a #hashtag), or to ask the viewer to go to a specific landing page to get more information.
If you use an infographic tool like Venngage, you can embed these call to actions directly into your infographic with our interactive infographic feature. For example, you can add a sign up form to ask people to sign up for your newsletter, and you can add links or buttons to your website or donate page (our example just links you to our home page and pricing page)
We’re going to post a followup post with actual infographic templates for the 5 types above so that you can create your own infographics easily with Venngage (our designers are working on them right now)
I hope that was useful. Nonprofits are very near and dear to us (that’s why all Nonprofits get 50% off our premium plans. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the discount). Let us know if we missed anything or if you have additional ideas on nonprofit infographics in the comments below.