All ideas are second hand, as Mark Twain shrewdly observed. If Twain is right then there should be no shame in ‘borrowing’ from others when it comes to trying to do things better.
Having worked for Severn Hospice for over seven years one of the things that has really struck me is that we, as a sector, are good at being magpies. Hospice fundraisers are adept at sharing, borrowing and developing our peers’ ideas – copying each other’s homework is positively encouraged! But, perhaps what we need to do more of is take inspiration from the world outside our sector.
When it comes to our PR and marketing, here at Severn Hospice we are trying to raise the bar in how we communicate with our target audiences. The infographic factsheet we have developed is a good example of how we have taken a model from another sector to improve our existing practice.
In September 2014 we were on the verge of reproducing our annual list of facts and figures for distribution to supporters, showing them what we had achieved together in the previous 12 months.
The list contained strong messages designed to shake the traditional perceptions of the care we deliver and how it is funded, but our uninspiring presentation – a bullet point list typed out in MS Word – prevented our messages from achieving maximum impact. So, we paused and asked ourselves ‘how can we do this better?’
The answer was to be found in an emerging design trend favoured by private sector operators who were using graphic visual representation to convey information in an easily digestible format. Many businesses were using ‘infographics’ in their annual reports and we thought we would jump on the bandwagon.
The result was an in-house designed A4 factsheet in our hospice colours, which transformed our boring bullet points into bold images that grabbed the reader’s attention.
The cost of producing the sheet was minimal but the impact has been significant. The improved format allows us to use the document more widely. The infographic now features in our fundraising pack and in funding applications, is displayed in our hospice shops, and we have copies available in hospice patient and visitor areas. We also use it at external events as an easy summary to show others just what we do.
The most interesting development has been in our use of the infographic as a really effective internal communication tool. It is easy to assume that all staff and volunteers know the key pieces of information about how the hospice is funded and how we deliver care, but by giving out copies of the infographic at our corporate induction sessions and displaying the sheet around our hospice sites means we can be more confident that colleagues have a greater understanding of where they work and what we are achieving together.
Since 2014 we have produced an infographic sheet every year. We have even used the concept elsewhere to good effect. In our 2014 yearbook each interesting fact presented as an infographic was supported by a powerful human interest story. We also now use infographics in our event registration packs.
It is difficult to be certain about the direct impact the infographic has had on our fundraising but our new approach to information sharing has certainly reinforced our reputation for openness, efficiency and effectiveness with our statutory and non-statutory funders as well as with the general public.
For more information visit Severn Hospice