Data presentation for nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations should use donor management software to tackle several new trends in data presentation this year. As the fiscal environment changes for both charitable institutions and their constituents, it's important to stay current and competitive in order to grow.

Data visualization
While presenting results on how well a nonprofit's efforts have succeeded over time is essential to building donor loyalty, simply listing facts and figures is not effective. Nonprofits need to present their data in a visually pleasing and engaging manner. Philanthropy Journal encouraged organizations to utilize videos, images, graphs and infographics to draw people in. Visitors to an organization's website should be impressed from the get-go and have a strong idea about what the nonprofit does and how it measures results. Create an archive that donors can see that depicts past projects, before and after photos and updates on how recipients are doing today.

"Infographics are quickly becoming a huge data presentation trend, both online and on paper."

Data visualization does not have to be complex or overly scientific. Visual News discussed the power of line charts as part of their Data Visualization 101 series. Line charts are simple graphs best used to track changes over time. It conveys important information quickly and adds a look of refinement to any set of information. In addition, infographics serve as excellent tools for simplifying complicated concepts. Often comprised of colorful pie charts and highlighted data points, infographics are quickly becoming a huge data presentation trend, both online and on paper in pamphlets or information packets. 

Non-financial reporting
Beyond financial figures and growth over time, many constituents require evidence that a nonprofit is making a great impact in a non-financial way. Being able to report on the emotional and social results obtained through an organization's efforts is crucial to building support and recruiting volunteers.

The Guardian reported that even for-profit companies are looking for ways to demonstrate non-financial impact to investors. In a survey of 163 institutional investors with $7.3 million in manageable assets, 89 percent said that in the past year non-financial information contributed to their decision-making process.

Annual reports and nonprofit websites are excellent places to display and promote non-financial news. Again, archived images of past projects are great examples of conveying non-financial results. Consider interviewing volunteers or funding recipients on a regular basis to track improvements and impact over time. Also, do not underestimate the power of personal contact.

Use photos to demonstrate emotional and social impacts. Use photos to demonstrate emotional and social impacts.

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal reported that Animal Tracks, a nonprofit in California that educates visitors on the value of wildlife, often visits classrooms to speak with students. The ranch from which the organization operates also provides opportunities for visitors and volunteers to interact directly with animals. This helps drive home the mission Animal Tracks supports, namely that wild animals need to be protected in the wild and not hunted or kept as pets. A simple financial report does not convey this sentiment nearly as well as an up close and personal experience with a friendly baboon.

System integration
Nonprofits looking to better communicate their results to constituents and keep track of donor habits should invest in donor management software. Ideally organizations should be using a program that allows them to integrate their processes. Accounting and fundraising data should be compiled in the same location for consistency and accuracy.

Plus, software that enables online donations can increase overall contributions by 24 percent according to the 2014 Fundraising Technology Trends Survey. The same survey found that while four out of five nonprofits believed strategic technology use would improve their success, only one in three claimed to be actively taking advantage of such resources.