Visuals allow initiatives to capture chunks of information and show it in a refined package. No matter how vast the amount of data, audiences are allowed to take their time and digest what they’re seeing. They don’t need to worry if they missed a detail and they can return to any part when they need to to cross-reference information.
More importantly, initiatives get to communicate their top findings about a social concern. Visuals weave the complexities of social issues together.
At one point of another, your initiative may rely on data to present the story of social impact (the concern, the solution, and the journey overall). Your team could be publishing an impact report, building a pitch deck, or doing a community presentation. So many points along the path of social impact development have information to be analyzed and shared.
Using Charts for Social Impact
A chart is always a safe place to start for delivering data presentations. Gathering information from data sources and making a chart. They are a classic and effective way to present information and trends you find among the data you collect.
- Pie Chart
- Bar Chart
- Line Graph
- Scatter Plot
- Line Chart
- Area Chart
- Bubble Chart
- Funnel Chart
- Venn Diagram
- Waterfall Chart
- Candlestick Chart
- Tip: search “different chart types” on Google to get an example list with images next to the chart types*
To get started with charts, you may want to look into tools like Excel, Tableau, Infogram, and Microsoft Power BI. Such tools can be powerful, but are also beginner friendly.
If anything were considered a “tricky” task, it’s that there’s a variety of options. On one hand, you get multiple methods to figure out how you want to share your learnings. On the other hand, you’re finding which chart type gets the main point of your data across.
For example, most charts that display diversity data come in a pie chart or a bar chart. The two types make it easy to compare the size of the groups being presented in the chart. The same information would not communicate the same thing visually if it were thrown on a line chart without changes.
View this choice as more of an exploration. You get to understand your data in a new perspective by trying on different chart types.
Choosing Certain Charts for Specific Data
Do you know what types of data you want to present? Questions like this help you eliminate which visual presentation you’ll use to communicate your social impact concern.
Think a team covering one of these topics:
- Life Cycle Assessment
- Supply Chain Transparency
- Pollution Avoided
- Carbon Footprint
Large categories like these can be presented from multiple angles, even when it’s for the same social impact concern. A team will reflect on the data to determine which aspects to include in the visuals so that the core message isn’t lost.
Using another example, imagine you want to have a visual for a conversation next week where you present to community leaders. The talk is about the timeline of the neighborhood’s demographics over the last two decades.
You may want a scatter plot with colors to show how the demographics move over time. Perhaps, you have a bubble chart with a map as the background. On the other hand, you may opt for a bar graph to highlight disparities within the neighborhood or comparing the neighborhood to other communities in the area.
Either way, it’s not likely you’ll pull out a Venn Diagram for that information as it may not communicate the most import findings or takeaways.
You may need a graphic designer and a data analyst if you plan on having unique charts and visual representation. When you first begin, using online tools yourself should be okay, especially for smaller initiatives.
Where do these charts go?
We mentioned a few options before about reports and pitch decks, but we want to actually take a closer look at the big picture. Let’s zoom in to a corner of the overall goal to talk about delivering social impact data. In this corner of the big picture, we want to explore 3 key methods to visually present social impact.
Instead of creating full blown reports, some initiatives create shorter versions of the main takeaways to their information.
An infographic, much like its name, combines pictures and charts to highlight the most important information. Each part of an infographic covers a theme and displays a trend related to the information. Some people even create infographics that read like a story or comic where the themes/ sections connect as you scroll down the infographic.
Tools to Explore: Visme, Venngage, Canva, Piktochart
Video is one of the top forms of content currently. Audiences stay on their mobile phones all day consuming videos from memes to blogs to documentaries. Creating videos to present social concerns catches attention. The engagement of video also makes them very shareable in today’s world viral content.
You’ll find this applies to different lengths of bidders, especially short form media like YouTube shorts.
Promoting data through video can be inclusive in a lot of ways. You get to visually present information while you still have an option to include audio in your presentation. There’s also the choice of adding subtitles if there are certain language groups that make up the stakeholders you are trying to reach.
Tools to explore: Descript, Canva, Adobe Premiere Pro, Default Video Editor (software that’s already on your devices)
Slideshows help the viewer set their own pace. They can gradually ease through each section of twist you’re presenting without feeling overwhelmed with a bunch of information sitting in front of them at once. If they are speed readers, they can speed up the pace and take in the information they need.
Moving through slideshows is passive enough that readers can flow through the information with a simple click, but also interactive enough that they won’t doze off.
By the way, you can consider social media posts like Instagram carousels under this category as well. Same idea and information, just a different platform.
Tools to explore: Adobe Express, Canva, Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint
We present not only the solution and outcomes, it’s important to include a look at the journey. Data storytelling lets us assess the risks and benefits of the solution we pursue.
Milestones inside your journey provide tangible insights that can be shared among your community of stakeholders and the social impact space as a whole. This is especially true for insights from the pivots you experienced along the way.
Speaking of interaction, many visual presentations can have interactive elements like pictures, videos, and audio. You can even include external links. This helps you create a fuller journey when showing your data story of social impact.
Presenting data doesn’t mean the journey is over. It’s a snapshot of where you are at this point. The data, impact, and journey you share are unique evidence of the effort of social entrepreneurship. Where can you take the journey next?