Make Your Own Infographic

Marketing May 25, 2010

Lori Halley

By Lori Halley

Infographics are to data what storytelling is to an annual report: a more engaging way to help bring attention and understanding to your nonprofit’s cause. Let’s look at infographics in general and resources to help your nonprofit get started on making your own.

As Wikipedia explains, “Information graphics are visual devices intended to communicate complex information quickly and clearly”:

Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. ... They illustrate information that would be unwieldy in text form, and act as a visual shorthand for everyday concepts...

Any time you can translate data into an infographic – a compelling visual representation – you’re making it easier for your audience to take in the meaning behind the numbers.  In the words of CNN, “when it comes to making data sexy, you can't be too graphic”!


Getting Started with Infographics

If you’re not sure where to start to create your first infographic, remember that annotated maps, flow charts, graphs, many of the diagrams you may already be creating on the job can help your audience to see the meaning behind your data. Not sexy and artistic, you might think, but even a simple graphic is far more effective than asking your prospective supporters to study a spreadsheet – if done right! 

Here’s a little help for figuring out what information you want to communicate, which data points to select, and how to present the numbers in a way that will be both accurate and accessible to numerically challenged viewers:

If your goal is to create an infographic so very cool that it’s bound to “go viral,” however, you’ll want to go well beyond the same-old-same-old bar chart. Here are some great sources of practical instruction and design inspiration for truly creative data visualizations:

If Graphic is Good... Interactive is Better

Some infographics go beyond simply providing an artistic chart – they present an interactive “action sheet" where you can pan and zoom around to view the whole thing. It’s an efficient way to get a large infographic into a small space on the screen, yes – but  even more importantly, viewers are likely to spend more time exploring your content when they’re actively engaged with it in some way.

A fancy Flash presentation might be a bit beyond the budget and tech resources of a small nonprofit, but don’t let that hold you back!  A little imagination goes a long way, with the help of technology.

Member map banner

Tech tools for better infographics

Do take advantage of the tech tools you can find online to help automate the process of turning data into graphics. Some of the free and low-cost tools for data visualization are remarkably sophisticated and yet quite user-friendly. Here a couple of possibilities to consider:

  • The New York Times’ Visualization Lab lets you create your own visualizations using data from news sources, using Many Eyes technology from IBM Research.
  • Tableau Public (free software to download and install on your computer, from Tableau Software) lets you create really stunning visualizations – for an example, see Annette Greiner’s The Geography of Diabetes: play with the sliders at the lower right to change what data is included on the map.
  • Free and open-source Simile Widgets (Timeline, Exhibit, Timeplot and Runway web widgets for data visualization) are an exciting little spin-off from a project at MIT – and I can’t wait to find an excuse to use one or more of these on a website!

4244428288_759c35a013_mRead More: 10 Inexpensive (or Free) Nonprofit Marketing Tools That Create Stunning Visuals

When it comes to pulling together the project, draw on the diverse talents of your members and volunteers as well as staff – for someone with a talent for design, this sort of creative project can be a refreshing change from stuffing envelopes! Or check with a local school or college to see if there’s a chance of a student project to create your infographic. You might even want to turn your data loose on the public and hold an infographic contest, online or offline or both – which can have the site benefit of bringing attention to your organization.

Consider: what graphics, photographs, etc. do you already have (or have access to) that could be put to work as part of a fresh infographic?  And how might your organization be able to repurpose your online infographics for offline use, too – in your brochures, direct mail materials, conference presentations, and other communications opportunities?

Has your nonprofit created an infographic, to help explain your mission or to give life to statistics related to your cause? 

As always, please share your tips and ideas in the comments!

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Branding

Image credits: GDS Digital, stahlmandesign, c21realestate,
bschmove, The Lightworks, dougbelshaw  via Flickr

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Get the report now!

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.



    Hi. You've probably heard of him but Edward Tufte is an infographics genius. here's the url for his website:

    you can also find his books on Amazon:

    but he's a wonderfully engaging speaker to hear. It's worthwhile attending his lectures or seminars.

    Great post

    Lori Stassi

    lorisch@aolcom (Twitter) (LinkedIn)

    I'd love to have you follow me on LinkedIn and vise versa

  • Jack Lucky:

    Great article. Good resource for making great and useful infographic.

    Thanks for sharing.


    Great, a really thought provoking article that has made me think about representing some of our agile methodology diagrams in a new and more artistic fashion.  I had never heard of infographics until now, but I am a definite convert.

    Thanks the ideas

  • Pablo Edwards:

    Thanks for sharing.  You always get me thinking more than when I started reading your posts.  I really appreciate your insights.

  • Web Trend Forum:

    Picture is worth a thousand words. Graphics not only present the theme behind the data connectivity but they also save a lot of time and make things easy to understand. Nice share :)

  • Elissa Schloesser:

    Thanks for the article with a ton of great links. I am always looking for infographic resources.

  • TSSVeloso:

    Great selection of resources, Rebecca, congratulations.

    A few extra for those who wish to go deeper on this:

    - Inpired Magazine has a nice round-up of the best Flickr Groups for infographics ( )

    - Visual Loop has over 5.500 infographics and data-vizualitions about pretty much every topic ( ), and puts up about 20 new ones everyday.

    Keep up your great work!


  • Lori Halley

    Lori Halley:

    Thanks, @TSSVeloso - two great additions to the infographic resource list!

  • Amber Laurin:

    I am a PR student and was asked to create an infographic for an on campus client.  When I first started the assignment I knew nothing about infographics.  With the growing popularity of social media sites, I think that infographics will soon be a necessary accompaniment to news stories.  Thank you so much for sharing this information.  

  • Lori Halley

    Lori Halley:

    Glad to be able to help you out, Amber - good luck with your assignment!

  • Joseph Gatos:

    Great article, this adds a lot of value to the rest of us, Im currently learning about infographics, thanks for sharing the links and resources on the subject, it is vaueable info.

  • Dawson Mitchell:

    We are in the process of creating an infographic, using some of the free resources.  We haven't had any so far that are that great. They seem to look more like tag clouds.  

    Glad I found this with all the resources.

    @Rebecca - I would love to hear about any success stories in a social way or link baiting way that you have seen from creating a infographic.

    It seems the sites that we would post to, would make the link back go to the page it was hosted on, not the creator.  

    Any help would be appreciated

  • Mike from Canada:

    Love it, love it,love it! Been a big fan of infographics for along time, but afraid to tackle it because of the seeming complexity. Your article provides a detailed breakdown of the overall process which will go far in disarming the hesitancy on my part to pursue this type of design. Thank you!


About results ( seconds) Sort by: 
Sorry, an error occured when performing search.