3 Ways to Make your Stats Sing

Months of data-gathering, weeks of number-crunching and countless hours in front of a screen making sense of the numbers. Statistical analysis is crucial to show the impact of your charity’s work. Make your findings compelling and accentuate the elements which show-case your impact.

I’m one of those annoying people who breaks out in hives the moment a graph enters the room; hyperventilates at long division and has been known to faint in maths exams. Unfortunately for you, I’m representative of a large part of your audience who struggles to connect with numbers. To get me to pay attention to your data, you need to illustrate and concretise it.

Outcomes 1 Facebook

In this blog, I use statistics from Relationships Scotland’s Measuring Outcomes Report 2015- 2016. Using Canva, I converted figures into a more concrete format with a couple of different methods. They’re being drip-fed in weekly Facebook posts.

Measuring Outcomes 2 Facebook

Why should they care?

What’s your purpose for using your numerical facts? Do you need your audience to remember specific numbers? Are you using them to persuade? As a call to action? Think carefully about your reason for pulling out specific figures: once you know this you can act to make the numbers meaningful. People are intrigued when you’re able to draw comparisons, show trends, understand connections and find patterns. Plus, these figures are more likely to stick in their minds.

For example, you when you show a bar graph comparing average house sizes in countries throughout the world, you’re unlikely to remember the square footage in each location. An effective visual representation makes you more likely to remember the relationship of each home size and how it measures up to other countries.

1) Make Numbers Concrete

Kids learn mathematical conceptions by using concrete objects: building blocks and toys. They’re unable to conceptualise numbers from such an early age and this method of understand the world sticks. It’s a basic way for humans to interact with the world. When you transform statistics or data from something abstract to something the audience can see, you make it easier to comprehend and memorise. It’s a short-cut to understanding which makes the data more compelling, especially on social media channels.

This is easy to accomplish when you want to visual percentages: all you need is 100 circles. Colour the corresponding number of circles to literally show what the percentage represents. Or, if you don’t have the patience, convert to a smaller number.

Outcomes 3 Facebook

Get creative: these figures concern non-resident parents’ ability to ‘cope’ with their family situation before and after seeing their child at a Child Contact Centre. Placing the coloured circles in the shape of a house connects a traditional concept of ‘home’ with modern experiences of family life.

Outcomes 7 Facebook (1)

2) Transform Numbers into pictograms

Try displaying your numbers through pictograms: simplified or iconic graphics that resemble an object. If your statistics are about children, use toys. Decide on a unit of measure and repeat as appropriate.

Outcomes 4 Facebook

3) Make Comparisons

Many of my examples have compared our intake and outcomes statistics from Relationships Scotland services across the country. These comparisons get to the core of our interest in the figures: we’re showing our direct, measurable impact on family life and relationships. For example, families’ ability to ‘cope’ with their situation (ie separation etc) increased threefold after visiting a Child Contact Centre, Mediation, or some form of Counselling. Using the dove, symbolic of peace, I increased its’ size by a factor of three.

Outcomes 5 Facebook

Words by Carrie Webb

5 Responses to “3 Ways to Make your Stats Sing”
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