Who doesn't love a good visual, right? Infographics compellingly and quickly tell a story driven by data. They can be a wonderful way to communicate a lot of information in a short format that won't overwhelm the viewer and, when done correctly, the visuals push the reader along from one part of the story to the next. The Oxfam America infographic to the right is colorful (and the colors correspond to well known cultural norms, i.e. red=stop, emergency, crisis), sticks to a basic layout that repeats in each section, supports visual imagery with simple descriptions, and guides the viewer from one section to the next by employing "arrows" at the bottom of each section.
But it can be challenging to tell the story of a program, organization, or charity in such a short space, because we often believe a story is deserving of intense detail, emotion, and history that can't be boiled down to a single page of images and numbers. The key to remember when struggling with the desire to elaborate more and more? The infographic is a stepping stone along a path to greater knowledge by the public about your area of concern. This is just one form of communication meant to introduce and illuminate a subject, potentially to someone who otherwise wouldn't take the time to read a longer, more involved narrative. If it does its job then an infographic will intrigue someone so they take action by learning more, donating, sharing the information with others, or volunteering their support.
If you're interested in learning more about infographics and how to design one then check out these resources:
Seven Tips for Creating Compelling Nonprofit Infographics that Get Shared
10 Nonprofit Infographics that Inspire and Inform
10 Steps to Designing an Amazing Infographic
How do you talk to people about what they'll do with their money after they've passed away? This issue can confound the most experienced fundraiser and makes many people more than a little uncomfortable. As if day-to-day fund development weren't difficult enough, this discussion can combine two taboos: talking about someone's wealth and talking about someone's death. So how can you do it successfully without making you or the donor cringe?
According to the latest issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy (July 2015) a new study by Russell James III, a researcher at Texas Tech University, will soon be released that offers some helpful insights into the sticky issue of bequest asks. The study showed that potential donors responded most positively to vignettes about other donors who had committed to a bequest and the benefits that will result from the gift in the future. The key point, italicized in my previous sentence, is that the vignette didn't need to be a story about a person who had already died, which would inevitably bring to mind the potential donor's own mortality, but rather could be about someone currently living who had made a connection with the charity.
Currently the study is a working paper titled "Encouraging Charitable Bequests: a Test Message of Effectiveness." If you have an interest in understanding bequests I'd keep an eye out for what sounds like an enlightening paper that could help us all with making a tricky ask less cringe-worthy.
The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed the tax filings of some major arts institutions and reported several paid their executives more than $1 million dollars in 2013. For example, Museum of Modern Art (NYC) Director Glenn Lowry "took home $3.4 million, nearly five times his base salary" when perks and bonuses were factored into the equation. Not too shabby.
Putting aside the larger moral or ethical question about whether high pay for nonprofit executives is right--a very tangled and gnarly question--I would instead ask nonprofits to focus on the role of executive pay in the context of donor relations at their own organization. What happens at MoMA is for MoMA to worry about and each organization is unique, so understanding how donors to your particular group will react to executive pay is what is important. This means
I would start with #1, because this is something you can do in-house and knowing your own thoughts (and thoughts of other staff) will help you anticipate what your donors might think and the questions they may have about this issue. These are the questions I would ask to get the ball rolling:
I'll come back to #2 in a future post, because this seems like more than enough food for thought for one day.