Posts in Infographic
Doing It Right! United Way of Calgary and Area (Calgary, Alberta)

Infographics are very popular these days, as it can be quicker and easier to communicate a message with a simple and meaningful picture or graphic, as well as statistics and text. Some United Ways have used infographics to try to communicate their message – but the challenge for United Ways is figuring out what message to communicate. One United Way that is using an infographic to effectively communicate their message is United Way of Calgary and Area (Calgary, Alberta). United Way of Calgary and Area has developed a series of infographics as a part of their campaign materials. This infographic about children in Calgary is one of their three infographics:

What are they doing right?

First, the focus of the infographic is on a single issue; in this case, children facing social, emotional, physical and/or communication challenges and not graduating on time. Some United Ways try to pack every issue they address into an infographic, which is overwhelming for the reader and defeats the purpose of simplifying the message using an infographic. Instead of one overwhelming infographic, United Way of Calgary and Area took a much better approach by creating three infographics – one for each of their issues of poverty, children, and domestic violence.

Second, United Way of Calgary and Area used local statistics like 3,000 Calgary youth are not graduating on time, and 27,000 youth face barriers to achieving or maintaining well-being because of poverty, family breakdown, mental health issues or homelessness. These local statistics are important because they demonstrate to the reader that these are significant problems and challenges locally. When United Ways use national statistics on their infographics, the reader may be inclined to dismiss the information because they think the problem only exists in other places and not in their community. Locally statistics are the first choice for any infographic if you have them like United Way of Calgary and Area.

Third, the infographic not only shows the issue, but the work being done. A donor or potential donor can look at this infographic and see that their donation to United Way of Calgary and Area is supporting kids with relationship-building, developing a strong sense of self, and developing skills to become independent. Although United Way of Calgary and Area does not report the exact number of children helped, they do state that 90% of youth participating reported an increase in competency, including interpersonal, critical thinking, employability, and academic skills. Communicating results is critical to United Way donors, as donors often struggle to understand what United Way does and how their donation makes a difference.

Infographics work best when they are simple. United Way of Calgary and Area has created an infographic that invites donors to invest in the children of Calgary. Their infographic tells a simple story about the challenges facing children in Calgary, the work being done to address those challenges, and the results that have been achieved. If your United Way is considering developing an infographic, take a look at the series of infographics created by United Way of Calgary and Area for some great ideas. United Way of Calgary and Area, you are Doing It Right!


Doing It Right! United Way of Central Iowa (Des Moines, Iowa)

Over the course of writing nearly three dozen Doing It Right! posts for our blog, we have highlighted many examples of United Ways that have done a good job communicating impact. The challenge of communicating impact is one that every United Way faces, so anytime we see a great example of communicating impact we want to share it because every United Way can benefit from improving how they communicate impact. One United Way that has raised the bar for communicating impact is United Way of Central Iowa (Des Moines, Iowa).

United Way of Central Iowa recently released their 2014 Community Impact Report entitled “Strength in Numbers.” It shows their progress toward community goals for 2020 in education, income, and health. The report can be found on their Web site as a Web page, and is also available as a two-page PDF. These pictures show the Web page version of the report.

This is the second year of the “Strength in Numbers” report, which is more robust in both data and infographics, according to Don Honnold, Marketing Officer at United Way of Central Iowa. He said the report was a team effort, including President Mary Sellers, community impact staff, and marketing staff, with the design work being contributed pro bono by Lexicon Content Marketing, a local marketing firm.

What are they doing right?

First, the report provides as much information as the reader wants to know. At the basic level, the online version of the report includes a story about someone impacted in each category, along with the goal for the issue within that category. If you click on the expand section icon, the report opens up to show more detailed information about the goal, such as the percentage of students who graduate high school, an explanation of why this is important, and information about what United Way of Central Iowa is doing to address the issue, such as 783 individuals participated in financial coaching. Finally, you can click on the little plus signs, which open up additional documents that provide even greater detail about the focus area and the progress being made. In a brief form, or in great depth, this report communicates what every donor wants to know – what are the issues United Way of Central Iowa is addressing, how is United Way of Central Iowa addressing these issues, and what are the results.


Second, not only is there sufficient information, but there is information that will appeal to everyone. For the number-crunchers, there are statistics about each of the issues that show how prevalent the issue is in central Iowa. For people who like a good story, there are stories about people whose lives have been positively impacted by the programs funded by United Way of Central Iowa. And for people who wonder what to do next, the report shares how people can give, advocate, and volunteer to address these issues through United Way of Central Iowa.

Third, the report tells it like it is. You will see that the goal of 75% of central Iowans being financially self-sufficient has not yet been achieved and the percentage of financially self-sufficient Iowans has actually decreased over the past five years. According to Honnold, people understand that the economy has been challenging and the recession has created headwinds toward reaching that goal. But Honnold says there is a lot of good news to report in the income category like jobs skills training that allows people to get better jobs. He said he is not aware of any negative feedback from donors or the community because progress has not yet been made toward the goal of increasing financial self-sufficiency. By reporting results like these, United Way of Central Iowa recognizes people realize significant change in a community takes time.

Don Honnold said United Way of Central Iowa believes a focus on community results makes United Way’s message more compelling and he is right. By setting goals in each of the categories of education, income, and health, United Way of Central Iowa has been able to show donors how their contribution will make a difference in central Iowa. Their “Strength in Numbers” report is a great example of how a compelling message can be communicated in an effective and efficient way. When the time comes for your United Way to communicate impact, take a look at how United Way of Central Iowa provided all of the information a donor would want to know, in a manner that will appeal to everyone. United Way of Central Iowa, you are Doing It Right!


Connect with Your Community

Are you inviting your community to volunteer for your United Way? Do you make it easy for your community members to find information on volunteer opportunities of interest to them?

United Way of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) is helping their community members find volunteer opportunities that fit their interests, skills, and schedule. They have a “Get Involved” tab at the top of their Web site, which brings you to a Web page with information on volunteering. On their Volunteers Web page, they have a chart that outlines volunteer opportunities by category (such as emergency needs or financial stability) and type of project (such as a one-time project or an ongoing project). This is helpful to community members who are interested in volunteering and would like to select a volunteer opportunity that fits their availability and preference.


United Way of Broward County invites their community to volunteer by becoming a mentor, committee volunteer, ReadingPal, or to select another volunteering opportunity on their Hands On Broward volunteering Web site.

United Way of Broward County is doing an excellent job of communicating with their community and inviting them to volunteer on their ReadingPals Web page. At the top of the Web page, they include a picture of kids holding a sign saying thanks for helping them learn to read, followed by information on the importance of the issue of children reading at grade level by the end of third grade and information on the ReadingPals initiative. You can click on a button to apply as a ReadingPal and you can view a video about ReadingPals. Toward the bottom of the Web page, they include information on the participating schools/sites, contact information, and an infographic with information about results that have been achieved through the ReadingPals initiative.

United Way of Broward County’s ReadingPals Web page and infographic include what we call “IAR,” which stands for issue, action, and results. They are communicating the importance of the issue, the actions that are being achieved to address the issue/how people can get involved, and results about what United Way of Broward County has accomplished in the community.

In our research, we have found that donors and community members want to know about IAR when choosing to contribute their time or money to an organization. Your community wants to know how they can get involved (action) to make a difference (results) on an important issue in the community (issue). United Way of Broward County’s Web page and infographic are great examples of communicating IAR and inviting people to get involved with United Way of Broward County.

When you are asking people to volunteer for your United Way, make sure to communicate IAR and provide them with an opportunity to connect with your United Way.