Data Visualization 101


Nonprofits today need to quantify the impact of their programs and services to their constituents (board members, donors, volunteers, etc.). Disseminating through what seems to be an endless amount of data can become overwhelming. Here are some Data Visualization tools and tricks, nonprofits can use to reach goals and receive those all too important grants. 

Most of us aren't IT professionals, yet we sift through data as if it was our full-time jobs. Data about website performance, donations, fundraising, social media, marketing campaign results ... the list goes on. 

When you manage multiple content assets, such as social media or a blog, with multiple sources of data, it can get overwhelming. What should you be tracking? What actually matters? How do you visualize and analyze the data so you can extract insights and actionable information? 

More importantly, how can you make reporting more efficient when you're busy working on multiple projects at once?

One of the struggles that slows down my own reporting and analysis is understanding what type of chart to use -- and why. That's because choosing the wrong type of chart or simply defaulting to the most common type of visualization could cause confusion with the viewer or lead to mistaken data interpretation. 


[Learn How to Use Excel Pivot Tables]


To create charts that clarify and provide the right canvas for analysis, you should first understand the reasons why you might need a chart. In this post, I'll cover five questions to ask yourself when choosing a chart for your data. 

5 Questions to Ask When Deciding Which Chart to Use

1) Do you want to compare values?

Charts are perfect for comparing one or many value sets, and they can easily show the low and high values in the data sets. To create a comparison chart, use these types of graphs:

  • Column
  • Bar
  • Circular Area 
  • Line 
  • Scatter Plot
  • Bullet

    2) Do you want to show the composition of something?

    Use this type of chart to show how individual parts make up the whole of something, such as the device type used for mobile visitors to your website or total sales broken down by sales rep. 

    To show composition, use these charts:

    • Pie
    • Stacked Bar
    • Stacked Column
    • Area
    • Waterfall

    3) Do you want to understand the distribution of your data?

    Distribution charts help you to understand outliers, the normal tendency, and the range of information in your values.

    Use these charts to show distribution:

    • Scatter Plot
    • Line
    • Column
    • Bar

    4) Are you interested in analyzing trends in your data set?

    If you want to know more information about how a data set performed during a specific time period, there are specific chart types that do extremely well.

    You should choose a:

    • Line
    • Dual-Axis Line
    • Column

    5) Do you want to better understand the relationship between value sets?

    Relationship charts are suited to showing how one variable relates to one or numerous different variables. You could use this to show how something positively effects, has no effect, or negatively effects another variable.

    When trying to establish the relationship between things, use these charts:

    • Scatter Plot
    • Bubble
    • Line


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View the original article from Hubspot   Featured Image Courtesty of iStock Photo/goir
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