Do They See What You’re Saying?

In college, I had a professor who asked, “Do you see what I’m saying?” after nearly everything he said. It was a nervous tick more than anything, but I was tempted to stand up and say, “No! I don’t see what you’re saying!”

It was a philosophy class and, while he was an interesting guy, his lectures weren’t. I really didn’t see what he was saying. That is, until one class when, to explain Hume’s ideas about causality and perception, he drew a little sketch of a movie reel and made a stick figure on three or four frames. I don’t remember much from that course, but I still remember Hume’s point about reality versus our impression of it and how proximity does not prove causality. For the first time all semester, I could see what he was saying.

We all learn in different ways and for many of us, maybe even most of us, visual information is important. It can mean the difference between a constituent or future donor “getting it” and engaging more deeply with your organization or moving on and forgetting that you exist.

Of course, infographics, charts, photographs, illustrations, videos—they all take time and money to create. But if your mission is to reach as many people as possible, you should find a way to get them into your communications mix.

A few posts this month offer information about how infographics can help nonprofits get the word out about their good work. Check them out and think through whether you might consider creating infographics of your own.

Thanks for reading, liking, and Tweeting this month. It’s always interesting to hear what you’re thinking.

Cheers,

Dan

Best of the Web: May 2016

How Information Graphics Reveal Your Brain’s Blind Spots (ProPublica)

Your brain can play tricks on you. We’ve all seen the optical illusions where identical shapes or colors look different depending on the context. (Maybe you’re still arguing about the color of a certain dress. Get over it!) What does this have to do with nonprofits? When you create a chart or infographic, you can use visual “tricks” or cues to help your audience get an important point. But be aware that you may also be injecting bias through your visuals, so be careful that your graphics are fair and accurate. ProPublica’s article contains dozens of great examples and is a must-read for anyone publishing infographics.

Data Visualization (TechSoup)

TechSoup offers a couple of interesting posts to help you think through how to use visual content to engage with your followers. This post discusses a few innovative approaches, delivers some common sense reminders, and links to visualization tools. TechSoup created a similar article for librarians. It offers chart principles, design tips, and tools.

How to Fundraise Like a Rockstar: Tips From Nonprofits Doing It Right (Care2)

Allyson Kapin makes a good point in this summary of a report commissioned by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. “What if we could learn from these organizations what’s working—not so we can copy their strategies and tactics but so we can get a better sense of the beliefs, values, and organizational cultures that create the conditions for fundraising success?” The post includes a lot of important takeaways that get at the heart of what it takes to be a successful fundraiser. It also includes a link to the report.

How to Receive a Google Grant and Manage it with Analytics (501cTech)

If you’ve heard about Google Grants, but aren’t sure how to sign up or how they work, 501cTech spells it out for you. There’s no excuse not to apply. Thousands of new people may find you for the first time this year thanks to a Google ad. That’s a lot of impact being left on the table if you put off the application for another year.

Advice from Nonprofit Leaders on Budgeting for Technology (Tech Impact)

You may not like spending precious resources on technology, but not budgeting time and money to acquire and maintain technology can be more expensive and can hold back your programs. In this post, nonprofit leaders who’ve had to make tough choices about technology give their advice.

A Few Good Methods for Processing Credit Cards (TechSoup)

Credit card processing can be confusing—both how it works and how to choose the right provider. We break down what you need to know about the process and highlight a few useful tools.

How Political Giving Impacts Nonprofit Donations (Care2)

Every four years, development directors fear that donors will focus on national elections and overlook or be less willing to donate to causes. New evidence suggests that the political season has little effect and may even boost donations to nonprofits.

The Next Generation of Nonprofit Data Standards (GuideStar)

GuideStar is an important leader in the movement to increase transparency in the nonprofit sector. What’s especially interesting and encouraging is how much it’s investing in data—both to help nonprofits get better at collecting and reporting it and to share nonprofit program data with donors and funders.

Budgeting for Cloud Based Technologies (Tech Impact)

The ubiquity of the Cloud in nonprofit software has meant that leaders have to think differently about tech spending. Tech Impact outlines what to consider in your budgeting process.

5 Essential Topics Every Email Marketer Should Understand (Mashable)

Believe it or not, email is still a big deal. To do it well, especially when problems arise, you should probably understand how broadcast email works. Mashable takes you behind the scenes.

Impressions Are A Sham: The Path to Better Media Metrics (Institute for Public Relations)

As media platforms mature and our understanding of what is happening when people encounter ads increases, we’re going to need to get more sophisticated about how we look at the value of our marketing. The Institute for Public Relations outlines its vision for the future of marketing metrics.