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Making Data Useful: Tell Your Program's Story through Data Visualization 


Evaluations are ways for organizations to tell their story through the effectual presentation of data findings.  Researchers have noted that many find data presentations not too exciting. Data-driven evaluation reports historically have been several pages long and filled with numbers, percentages, and printouts with statistically significant designated tables.  Often, evaluation has become the last and least desired program activity and not considered as helpful as working directly with people. Yet, the assembling of programmatic successes and challenges can result in additional positive attention, resources, and

Included in this article are creative examples of how the field is leveraging data to create highly visual, engaging stories. Infographics are most appropriately created by specific software. There are vast numbers of free and subscription tools that can be used to develop infographics.  A few of them are Canva,, Piktochart and Venngage.recognition.

When deciding to tell your program’s or agency’s story, below how tips to consider when thinking of data visualization.
What is the point?

  1. Establish the overall question you are trying to answer with your infographic
  2. Create a short, attention-grabbing headline 
How are you using this?
  1. Determine what format is appropriate based on how you are planning to use your infographic
    • Infographic - standard, long-form
    • Report - prints to two A4 sheets
    • Poster - single A4 sheet
    • Presentation - Powerpoint style, fixed 4:3 ratio
  1. Determine what the final file type will be
    • JPG - default option because of small file size   
    • PNG - good option if JPG looks pixelated
    • PDF - good for printing or distributing as an e-book
    • Publish online to present - only 'interactive' option
What is in the content?
  1. Find relevant data from reputable sources, ideally, newspapers or peer reviewed journals
  2. Condense the information: there should be very few blocks of text, limit them to 4-5 sentences, everything else should be a short sentence
  3. Put your facts and statements in order, with a hierarchy and sections (sections can correspond with page cutoffs or presentation slides)
  4. Make sure that the connection between sections is clear (number them in steps or clearly categorize and label them) 

The Capacity Building (CB) Division of NMAC works with community-based organizations to help them better collect manage and use data for better story telling.  In placing a request for technical assistance, the CB division can provide assistance on ways to keep accurate program records in an organized and systematic way. By doing this, the programmatic information, with recommendations, can easily be not only retrieved, and analyzed but also visualized in interesting ways.
For more information on data visualization and infographics, contact the Capacity Building Division at
The services are provided by NMAC through three programmatic divisions. The divisions include Capacity Building, Treatment, and Leadership Pipeline. For more information regarding NMAC’s programs and services, please visit the new website at or contact us at or

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