Awesome Infographics: The Power of Vaccines

To say infographics have become popular in the last couple years is a major understatement. They are everywhere these days, covering a range of topics from Instagram to Sriracha Hot Sauce (and everything in between).

The recent rise of visual storytelling has pushed more and more groups to start using infographics to explain or talk about something. And as expected, with everything that becomes popular, it eventually reaches a point where the medium is no longer effective and the art and style become diluted.

Infographics are no exception. Everyday I come across several ones that fail to present the information in an effective and engaging way. They have too much info; the organization is cluttered and confusing; they are too long and boring, etc. Many people are in such a hurry to make an infographic that they often forget its essential purpose.

So this week we are starting a new type of post, where I share and discuss awesome infographics that truly succeed in telling a message. These are ones that effectively embody what a great infographic should be: simple and effective.

The Awesome

This week’s infographic (see above) comes from Shot@Life, a nonprofit working to “protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are needed most.”

The clean and simple format makes it easy to follow, while still delivering the necessary info to make an impact. It only provides the reader with a handful of statistics about the problem, but each of these stats is compelling and informative. There is no unnecessary fluff added.

I especially like the timeline comparison between a vaccinated child and one that hasn’t been vaccinated. This parallel setup delivers a powerful message without overloading the reader with unnecessary stats and info.

This infographic succeeds in providing readers with a captivating snapshot into the issue at hand, making sure not to overburden the reader. It’s a short and quick message that is easy to read and share with others. Exactly what an infographic should be.

Please be sure to show your support to Shot@Life and the amazing work they are doing. Vaccinating children from deadly diseases is an important cause that can be easily solved with a little work.

The Not-So-Good

For an example of the exact opposite type of infographic, one that seems to hit on all the negatives I had mentioned earlier, check out this one about LinkedIn.  It’s not a horrible one, but the amount of information coupled with its confusing format make for a very unappealing experience; (it actually was so long that I couldn’t fit it in this post).

What do you think makes an infographic awesome? Share some examples of the good and the bad. 


Data Without Borders: Helping Charities in Unusual Ways

Data Without Borders is an awesome example of how data scientists are using their nontraditional skills to help charities organize vast amounts of data and answer pressing questions. Not only are they helping charities with their work, they are also helping society better understand these problems in new ways.

Helping charities doesn’t always involve donating. Volunteering your time and skills to help out a nonprofit can often prove more useful than simply giving money. National Volunteer Week was technically last week, but that doesn’t mean the need for volunteers has ended.  Charities are always in need of volunteers and can often use your distinct set of skills in ways.

So I urge you to do a little research and see which local charities interest you and could use your help.

What can you do to help nonprofits in need? How can you use your skill-set to help charities solve everyday problems?

Pinterest and the Potential for Online Donations

Convio, along with CAREUSE, published a report last week that outlined multi-channel marketing and the value of each approach, individually and together. Not surprisingly, it found that the dual channel donors give the most, an average of $123.29 annually. This is 46% more than only direct mail donors.

The more interesting aspect of Convio’s report was their breakdown of donation habits by gender and demographics. What they discovered was that women tend to donate online more often than men (56% of online only donations are from women). Take this fact, coupled with First Giving’s recent findings that on average, women donate more often than men (66% of all direct online donations through First Giving are from women), and it quickly becomes apparent that women are a very critical demographic to target for online donations.

Furthermore, these recent findings emphasizing the habits of women donators open up several possibilities when one considers the rapidly expanding popularity of the social media site Pinterest. As many know, Pinterest is the first social media platform that is largely dominated by female users (68.2% of all users are women) and has quickly grown into one of the largest platforms over the past year. Women seem to be drawn into the visual and easy-to-share nature of the platform, which is apparent in much of the content being shared.

Examining these two findings, it quickly becomes apparent that the next logical step would be for nonprofits to try and leverage the popularity of Pinterest and its majority female-user base as a means of raising awareness and gathering donations for their causes. If women as a whole donate more often online, it only makes sense to focus on targeting the platforms that best cater to their needs. The potential for turning the work your nonprofit is doing into a visually captivating narrative is tremendous and could open the possibility for a major increase in online donations.

To be successful in spreading awareness through Pinterest, a nonprofit must adjust the method of explaining their work to better fit the style of the platform. The most successful content on the platform are the visually captivating ones that often tell a story or explain how to do something. A nonprofit must transform its good work into a fascinating story that is told visually. A good place to start would be through a picture of the people who have benefited from your work. The possibilities for successfully spreading awareness to your cause are endless.

The only major drawback to Pinterest is that the platform is technically a social bookmarking site, meaning that it is a simply of a method of redirecting someone to content on another website. What this means is that you cannot just create a profile and expect people to find and follow you on their own. Pinterest requires users to be proactive in creating, organizing and sharing content. This can be rather time-consuming and may not garner results immediately.

Although this is a major drawback, Pinterest is still very much in its infant-stages and the potential for a nonprofit to take advantage of it to tell their story is tremendous. It is just a matter of understanding how the platform works and utilizing its features best to spread awareness to your cause and raise online donations.

How is your nonprofit utilizing Pinterest for awareness and online donations? Is it worth the time and effort? 

Why Don’t Americans Recycle and How Can We Change This?

Honest question, how many of you actually recycle? Would you consider yourself an avid recycler or a convenience recycler?

GOOD recently released an interesting infographic detailing the problems surrounding recycling these days.  As it turns out, most Americans, despite knowing why they should recycle, still don’t. It seems a little absurd thatAmerica, normally at the forefront of the green revolution, still cannot manage to get the majority of its citizens to properly dispose of its trash.

Why is this major problem with an obvious solution so difficult for Americans to solve?

The recycling dilemma is a perfect example of how widespread awareness does not necessarily equal widespread action. Almost all Americans understand the benefits and importance of recycling, yet the majority of us still don’t dispose of our trash in the best possible way. A lot of us still struggle with figuring out whether or not pizza boxes are recyclable (they aren’t). And these simple frustrations inevitably cause us to give up and recycle only when it is convenient.

What this essentially boils down to is a basic communication problem. Thousands of organizations have been fantastic of explaining why we need to recycle, reiterating this important message over and over since we were children.

Their main problem is not properly explaining how we should recycle. Most of us are clueless about the details of what actually is recyclable (and what isn’t), and even more importantly, we don’t want to be bothered with having to figure it out. Busy people don’t want to spend the extra five minutes seeing which bin they should throw their juice box in.

We need to be told where our trash should go. As silly as it sounds, the inconvenience of having to research which items are recyclable needs to be removed. Something as simple as a phone app, that listed items as recyclable or not, would probably increase recycling statistics tremendously.

What does this mean for your nonprofit?

As a nonprofit, your task is not only to make people aware of the problem at hand, but more importantly explain clearly how they can help solve these problems. Most charity websites are fantastic at describing the problem, but many fail to take this explanation one step further with a call to action. A simple “donate” button at the bottom of the page is no longer enough.

You must make the connection between the Why and the How for your supporters. Most people want to help your cause, but often lack the knowledge of how they can help. By explaining exactly what your want people to do and how they can do it, you are saving them the time and effort they probably wouldn’t have wanted to spend.

A simple call to action is often all that is necessary to transform awareness into results.  Tell your supporters how to donate, how big of an impact $x will make, how they can share your cause to their friends.  You must make your call to action as easy and clear as possible.

Because that is essentially what people want, a simple and clear way to do good.

What Can We Learn From KONY 2012?

It has been one month since the KONY 2012 video was released, creating tremendous buzz all over the internet and breaking most YouTube records with over 60 million views in under a week. The video’s tremendous success and instant popularity naturally led to a major backlash, with many critics questioning the campaign’s motives and facts.

So one month after the campaign’s tremendous rise into viral stardom, and the strong backlash it received the days following, what exactly can we take away from the entire KONY 2012 phenomenon?

Despite your views on the success of KONY 2012 video and the backlash that followed, one thing remains very clear: the campaign was successful in spreading its message.

Within a week, nearly every internet-user had come across the video and its message in some form, from Facebook and Twitter posts to various news sites covering the topic. People loved the message behind KONY 2012 and not only wanted, but felt compelled to share it with their peers. It had truly become a viral sensation. It didn’t have that natural growth that most viral videos have, where one can trace its path from one friend’s Facebook wall to the next. Instead, it seemed as if the video was suddenly everywhere all at once.

Breaking the Mold

Probably the most interesting aspect of the KONY 2012 video was that it broke the mold in many ways, yet still achieved tremendous results. Most marketing experts live by the commandment of keeping your message short and simple, which means about 1-2 minutes in video form. Yet KONY managed to keep most audiences captivated for 30 minutes. Can you remember the last time you watched a 10+ minute video on YouTube that was trying to sell you on something?

So how did the KONY 2012 campaign achieve such success? How did they manage to not only get viewers to watch the video, but also feel compelled to share it with everyone they knew?

The truth is that there is no way to fully explain how and why KONY 2012 went viral so rapidly and became the huge hit that it was. Like most things that go viral, it was a case of the right content and at the right time. As a nonprofit, you shouldn’t be focusing your effort on trying to create the next KONY 2012. Instead, you should examine the KONY 2012 campaign and understand the different pieces that helped make it so successful:

1. A Clear Message

More than anything, KONY 2012 had a clear message: “Stop Kony.” This message was clear and simple, making it easy for anyone to understand and get behind. The message was supported by great storytelling, which explained the situation without muddling the message.

As a nonprofit trying to spread awareness to your cause, it is critical that you make your message simple and easy to digest. People want to understand your cause in a couple of minutes.

2. Simple and Effective Design

The design of the KONY 2012 campaign was sleek and professional. They branded the “Stop Kony” message with a distinct red and black motif. Within days the striking “STOP KONY” images and posters were prevalent on every social media platform and website. The strong message, along with the distinct red and black colors, caused many to want to investigate this cause further. This was essentially great branding, not very different from the Coca-Cola or Apple logos.

3. A Call to Action

Simply telling a great story is no longer enough, people want to participate in the cause. KONY 2012 allowed everyone to participate by calling for them to simply share the “Stop Kony” message, and to donate if they want to help further.

You should always have a way for your audience to participate and make it very clear how you want them to. The easier you make it for your audience, the more likely they will take action. KONY 2012 made it as easy as posting the message on your Facebook wall.

4. The Truth

Probably the KONY 2012 campaign’s biggest failure was its muddling of the facts. These oversights allowed the entire campaign to struggle under the intense scrutiny that faces anything popular. As a result, Invisible Children, the organization behind KONY 2012, has taken an image hit, with many people questioning the organization’s motives.

It is important to note that even though they are people trying to do good, the immense success of KONY 2012 greatly magnified any mistakes they made. People want to support good causes and want to help, but more importantly they want the truth. Nonprofits that provide transparency are often the ones that have the greatest success.


Invisible Children just released a follow-up video to the KONY 2012, called KONY 2012 Part II: Beyond Famous. Will this new video achieve the same success as the first one? It will be interesting to watch and see if the supporters of the first video continue supporting the cause and feel as compelled to share it with their peers.

What other lessons can we learn from the KONY 2012 phenomenon? How can we apply these lessons to smaller nonprofits marketing campaigns?

How an Unconventional Charity Hopes to Raise $2-billion

Scott Harrison, founder of Charity:Water

Is it possible for a single charity to raise $2 billion in a single decade?

Although this may seem like an impossible goal for most charities, Scott Harrison, founder of charity:water believes that this ambitious goal is more than possible. The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently interviewed Harrison on the success of charity:water and what it will take for his charity to reach its goal of $2 billion.

The most interesting takeaway from the interview is Harrison’s “secrets to his organization’s success”:

  • Demonstrate results
  • Good design and branding
  • Not charging donors for overhead
  • Broadcast your failures
  • “You are what you eat”

Although many charities probably won’t be able to emulate all of charity:water’s values, implementing a couple still can help your nonprofit achieve major results. With the social media space quickly making the shift to a more visual space (Pinterest, Facebook Timeline, etc.), a well designed website and brand can make a huge difference in donors’ minds. Donors want a simple and clean experience, which is something many nonprofits’ current websites do not offer.

The other main element donors want from a nonprofit is results. They want to know where their money is going and how your work is progressing. And even if you make a mistake or hit a road bump along the way, let the donor know. As long as they are truthful results, most donors will be happy (Just don’t make a habit of making mistakes with their money).

Is raising $2 billion in ten years a feasible goal for charity:water? What do you think they doing right and what are they doing wrong?