January 23, 2013

Five tips to create powerful infographics

How nonprofits can use infographics to demonstrate supporters’ impact

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, businesses, Web publishers, bloggers, social media managers, individuals.

John HaydonPeople support your organization for one reason: They view your organization as the agent of change they seek.

If they had the resources, they’d make the changes they desire by themselves. But they don’t, which is why you’re in their lives.

So when you tell the story of your cause, you need to show how supporters ultimately create the outcomes. Continue reading

May 23, 2012

10 top tools for cause campaigns


A visualization from Bigthink.com.

Target audience: Cause organizations, NGOs, nonprofits, foundations, social enterprises, political reformers, educators, journalists, general public.

JD LasicaOver the past three years, as regular readers know, Socialbrite has put together dozens of guides and compilations of resources and tools for social change advocates. See the bottom of this article for a few, and our Sharing Center is all about social tools for social change.

Download one-page flyer

To celebrate Internet at Liberty, a conference on protecting protecting freedom of expression on the Internet that Google is organizing in Washington, D.C., this week — and where Socialbrite is running the social media workshops — we’re launching a new section today:

The Social Advocacy Toolkit features new and updated informational guides, tool roundups and resources for global activists, social good advocates, political reformers, NGOs and anyone looking to use online tools for social change. It includes tactics for effective campaigns, guides to the best monitoring and metrics tools (many of them free), lists of enabling platforms and organizations and other resources to help galvanize your campaign.

Below is a new guide that we’ve put together to help social change activists with their advocacy efforts, which we’re adding to the toolkit. Check out the Social Advocacy Toolkit for much more.

10 tools for activists & social change advocates

Asana: A leap ahead for productive teamwork

1Asana is a work-collaboration software suite that came out of beta in April 2012. “We built this company to change the world,” said founder Dustin Moskovitz, one of the co-founders of Facebook. Asana offers a simple, word processor-like interface to give people working together on a task a central place to discuss the project, share files and keep track of to-dos in real time. It’s free for teams of fewer than 30 users.

Alternatives: Yammer, Microsoft Sharepoint (for larger enterprises) and see our Collaboration roundup

PopVox: Advocate your cause in Congress

2You might remember our recent article on PopVox, an online service that individuals and grassroots organizations can use to lobby members of Congress on behalf of a cause. CEO Marci Harris founded the nonpartisan service based on her knowledge of how Congressional staffers interact with the public. For a cause to be effective, it has to be made concrete on behalf of or against a specific bill. PopVox helps you do that.

Geo-bombing with Google Earth

3I was blown away when I saw Tunisian activists from the collective blog Nawaat.org (The Core) link video testimonies of Tunisian political prisoners and human rights defenders to the Tunisian presidential palace’s location on Google Earth. Now, as you fly over the Tunisian presidential palace using a Google Earth KML file, you will see it covered with videos about human rights abuses that strongman Ben Ali tried to prevent Tunisian citizens from watching by blocking YouTube and DailyMotion. Visit earth.google.com/outreach for more examples. We’d like to see more organizations to take up “geo-bombing.” Continue reading

February 13, 2012

6 ways to tell your stories with data


A concept map by Juhan Sonin from the Wikipedia Concept Extractor

Nonprofits: Move your mission forward by following these examples

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, government agencies, universities, businesses, research institutions.

Guest post by Kurt Voelker
CTO, Forum One

Data is the new black. These days everyone is releasing it, visualizing it, aggregating it, and mashing it up. And for good reason. Data is so much more than a stack of numbers or a server filled with client outputs. It can justify the work that your organization is doing, help others understand why it is critical, and offer exciting new ways to motivate others to help solve the problems your organization is working on.

And chances are your nonprofit, government agency, foundation, or research institution has gobs of it just sitting around. It’s locked in white papers, policy briefs, and fact sheets. It’s hidden away in project output reports and research Excel files.

Given the attention that data gets from the media, influencers, and Capitol Hill, we believe that every communications department is obligated to look closer at their data and how they are using it – and consider how you should be tapping into it to get work done toward your organizations goals.

One effective way to transform your data from an afterthought into a powerful communications product is through visualizations that help tell your story.

Here are 6 ways to tell your stories with data that you can apply to your own web and communications work:

Speak with numbers

1Sometimes it’s best to just let the numbers speak for themselves. Numbers are a universal language. You can make a big impression of site visitors just by presenting them clearly and in context with your Web content.

charity: water, an organization that raises money to build wells in Africa has learned the lesson. Look how elegantly they tell the story of the need for fresh drinking water and the difference their prorgrams are making.

Reveal change

2Many of the stories we’d like our site visitors to understand are centered on revealing the truth behind a situation. The truth can become obvious when you reveal the change in data in a visual way. By simply removing everthing except the changing data, your data will suddenly reveal the compelling story you are looking to spread – whether you are revealing conditions that are worsening, attitudes that are changing or the improvements you organization is making.

My favorite example of this technique is the Descry Project’s Obesity Epidemic visualization. By using the simple metaphor of T-shirt size to represent a US state’s obesity rate, and making them “grow” over a two decade period, we can quickly see how America’s waistline has ballooned in since 1987. Continue reading

October 5, 2011

How nonprofits should use infographics

Figures, properly used, can help tell your organization’s story

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, Web designers, Web publishers, brands, educators.

Debra AskanaseInfographics are multiplying like rabbits. I run across them everywhere, and about all types of subjects from the power of social fundraising to what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Some are great, some not so great. The abundance of data we now have to process is fueling the trends toward content curation, data consolidation tools and information visualization.

As Beth Kanter remarked on a public Google Plus thread about creating useful infographics, “I think that information visualization is a necessity in this age of data overload and seeing the forest beyond the trees.” I agree with that statement and personally jump to view the “shiny new storytelling toy” whenever I see an infographic. Infographics represent an exciting new storytelling avenue for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to share important data stories visually.

Infographics as storytelling

Infographics represent a natural extension of storytelling: telling the story of data. It’s not a coincidence that storytelling is growing as we struggle to understand all the information coming at us and overcome cause fatigue.Karen Dietz, who uses storytelling to help businesses grow, says that “infographics are another form of visual storytelling and many of the same oral storytelling principles apply. We’ll be sorting out the issues of authenticity and key messaging and quality as infographics become more popular and easier to produce.” And therein lies the rub: quality. Just as all stories are not created equally, neither are all infographics. Continue reading