Infographics are a hot topic in the world of marketing. They are a popular way to make potentially boring data visually appealing and fun. I love the creativity and inventiveness designers are able to inject into statistics. The folks at visual.ly highlighted this infographic that shows how the color palettes of 10 famous artists changed over the course of 10 years. As someone who has a minor obsession with impressionist artists, I loved instantly seeing how Monet’s use of color changed over time and how his art chromatically compares with his contemporaries.
In an efficient, unobtrusive manner, infographics can communicate a wealth of information in a glance. Data visualization is giving nonprofits the opportunity to make statistics about potentially scary topics such as child mortality and domestic violence understandable for a large donor base. The Agitator’s Tom Belford recently aggregated his favorite fundraising infographics, saying, “You probably don’t need convincing that infographics are a powerful way to communicate facts and figures (but just in case).”
But what if that isn’t the whole story? What if infographics, with their clean lines and minimalist feel, are creating a dearth of repeat donors?
Anna Sternoff, the head of strategy at the content marketing studio Captains of Industry,thinks just that. While she admits to having achieved success through an infographic campaign of her own, she worries that although they’re a great way to capture data in a manageable way, infographics are missing out on a key building block: emotion.
Anna raises the concern that if nonprofits rely on infographics to tell their stories, they may be missing out on a key way to convert people into “active, repeat donors.” When people tell stories, they expect a reaction from their listener. While that desired reaction for nonprofits is usually a donation, all storytellers need that action to stem from a more conspicuous initial reaction—they want their audience to feel something. Anna points out that infographics can be emotionally whitewashing: “When you’re banking on people feeling something … you’re betting an awful lot on your audience’s ability to have a reaction more significant than ‘gee, that’s a lot of hungry people in the world.’ ”
What role should infographics play in nonprofit outreach? Is there a way to capture an emotionally compelling story in an infographic? Chime in below with your thoughts on effectively using infographics in nonprofit communication.