As the nonprofit fiscal year comes to a close, lots of organizations are knee-deep in outcomes reporting. Because outcomes are so important when proving your progress to funders, there’s a lot of pressure to choose the right data and manage it all correctly to show your nonprofit’s growth. Unfortunately, turning spreadsheets upon spreadsheets of data into something readable and meaningful isn’t easy. It is, however, very necessary. Simplifying a statistical story doesn’t just ease the headache of outcomes reporting for nonprofits; it lets funders look at what your nonprofit is really doing and how it’s making a difference.
Can visualizing data help your nonprofit? Use these 5 frequently-asked questions to get started and find out if you can leverage a data visualization tool for your outcomes reporting.
What does “data visualization” mean?
Data visualization is a way to communicate statistics via a visual format. Rather than columns of numbers or extensive written content, visualized data may take the form of charts, graphs, or even maps. Data visualization is often an effective way to consolidate large amounts of data or abstract concepts and translate those ideas into something more concrete.
Why is data visualization important?
Unfortunately, numbers alone aren’t enough to communicate your nonprofit’s progress effectively, no matter how impressive those numbers might be. Sifting through raw data is tough and time-consuming, and not everyone will draw the same conclusions from that unfiltered data. Visualized data, on the other hand, is easy to read and share, and is therefore one of the most effective ways to communicate your outcomes. This makes visualized data a great way to provide the public with proof positive that your organization is achieving its mission. Think about it this way: if you were a potential donor, would you rather read spreadsheets of data or a comprehensive infographic?
What can you do with visualized data?
Once you have a great visual that communicates your outcomes, you can share that visual across a number of platforms. When you maximize the number of people your data reaches, you are sharing that data with potential funders and volunteers. You can start by sharing your visuals in email blasts, as part of an infographic, on social media channels, in a blog post, on your site as a resource, or in a whitepaper.
What are data visualization tools?
Data visualization tools are programs used to actually convert preexisting data into visuals. These exist in many forms, from free tools, to online tools like CartoDB, to reporting tools that are already included in nonprofit outcomes software like Apricot’s Reporting Tools and Report Builder.
What makes a good data visualization tool?
Good data visualization tools help you prove your impacts clearly and accurately. The results will look professional, and will communicate trends and stories, not just end results. A one-size-fits-all tool can be useful if it allows you to utilize the right statistics. However, a customizable tool that is already integrated with your data collection methods has significant advantages when it comes to accuracy and efficiency. When your data visualization is directly connected to your outcomes reporting, you can incorporate long-term goals, demographics, when demonstrating an overall impact. Other attributes of a good data visualization tool might include a user-friendly interface, customizable filtering options, and data grouping layer options.
Share Your Story with CTK
Have you successfully used data visualization tools to communicate your nonprofit’s outcomes? Do you have any tips for nonprofits that want to create visuals for their data? Click here to share your story on the Mission Accomplished blog.