Visualizing Data: A Nonprofit Guide for Using Infographics


YNPN recently hosted a professional development event this week which focused on The Art of Visualizing Data, so we thought it would be helpful to share a primer on transforming data into infographics. Visual guides are important tools that nonprofits can and should use to make complex data eye-catching. For example, they help to illustrate how an organization is making an impact in a positive way or to demonstrate how critical your particular cause is globally.

Infographics can be instrumental in presenting reports and making your data more compelling to your audience. Below is a step-by-step guide on best practices for data visualization and making infographics a reality on a tight (or non-existent) budget:

  1. What Data to Exhibit

The first step is to collect and analyze the data you want to feature and make some preliminary decisions on what numbers your organization wants to stand out the most. There are countless methods for using infographics to interpret data. Nonprofits should consider utilizing infographics for case studies, annual reports, press releases, and sharing statistics on social media. If your organization is incorporating third-party data, make sure to cite external sources.

This initial planning phase is also a good opportunity to list your organization’s goals and reflect on what you’d like to get out of this project. For example, if your goal is to make your graphic go viral through social channels it may be helpful to have a discussion about creating a hashtag to further track its social impact.

  1. Designing Infographics

If your organization is lacking a graphic designer on staff, fear not because the internet is teeming with infographic platforms to illustrate data with versatile design tools.

Here are some free tools available to create your very own infographics:

  • – A tool that is simple for staff without a background in design to use, also includes simple sharing tools for displaying graphics on social media and blogs.
  • Venngage – Developed by the team, Venngage offers a free demo mode with most functionality, but the platform requires you to purchase the Professional version to use export options or for publishing documents privately.
  • PiktoChart – This infographic tool offers more versatile visual elements to edit in graphics, such as overall layouts, fonts, and backgrounds.
  • Canva – Canva’s drag-and-drop feature is very user-friendly, and the platform recently launched a free subscription program for nonprofits worth checking out which includes many other helpful tools for designing images.

After you’ve settled on your preferred platform to create your infographic template, put the finishing touches on your design by creating a catchy title, selecting text sizes and fonts, and modifying any formatting.

  1. Make it Spread like Wildfire

Now that you have designed a beautiful, eye-catching infographic with thought-provoking data, you’ll want to make sure your good work is appreciated and distributed widely (unless you have included private data you are only sharing with internal staff). Push out your new infographic on all relevant social media channels, your blog, email database, and with any other networks your organization is affiliated with.

Examples to Reference

Classy has provided a nice list of good examples ofnonprofits utilizing graphics. Below is one more recent example of a well-designed infographic from the Global Partnership for Education on the United Nation’s 17 Global Goals that launched in September of 2015. One-hundred and ninety-three world leaders have committed to these Global Goals for sustainable development to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet by the year 2030. The Global Partnership for Education designed an infographic focusing on data about one Global Goal dear to their heart and mission: access to education.


The U.N. created image icons for each global goal, also featured in the infographic above, which makes all seventeen sustainable development goals easy to digest and provides a nice example of how organizations can illustrate complex issues.

Numbers aren’t very sexy on their own, but infographics can be a great way to inspire and engage people in your organization’s data. So get to it!

YNPN Denver would like to thank CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs for supporting our 2015 programming. Thank you!

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