It only takes a few pieces of data to tell your story

Image credit: Fast Company

Telling a good story can feel daunting enough. Throw in data and it sounds like an epic challenge—there’s so much data and it’s SO BORING. But using data to tell your story doesn’t have to mean presentations with lots of charts and graphs, or complex narratives that detail the 47 reasons why you do what you do. (Zzzzz…oh sorry, fell asleep there for a minute.) In fact, telling your story with data can –and should—be quite simple. Your audience doesn’t want to look at those pivot tables any more than you do. Your job is to deliver the few pieces of data that best help you tell the story of how you’re having a great, big impact (or being impactful, whichever floats your boat).

One organization that does a great job of this is Splash, which set up a website called “Proving it” telling their impact story with data. Front and center, they present a map showing projects and the number of children with safe drinking water. Boom! Impact story told. This is why Splash’s CEO, Eric Stowe, will be on a panel about ‘Data, transparency and impact’ with Beth Kanter, Jane Meseck and Paul Shoemaker (moderated by yours truly) on February 11. Because they’re the bomb when it comes to this impact story-telling stuff.

You might not be in a position to invest in development of an impact-showing webpage that’s as splashy as Splash’s, but you already have some stories that you tell about people whose lives have been changed by your work (on your website, at your events, in brochures, etc). And there’s data you’re already collecting (in your 990s, Google analytics, evaluations, etc). Connecting the two can put you on the path to becoming a telling-your-story-with-data rockstar.

Check out these other examples of organizations that use a few simple pieces of data to tell a compelling story:

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  1. [...] You have a story to tell and people who want to hear it. You have characters, plots and perspective. You might even have some data to help you make your point. [...]

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