At the heart of CEP’s work is the provision of comparative data that allows one funder to understand how aspects of its own performance compare to the other funders. In much of our work, the manifestation of that activity is charts in our reports that display the comparative data. I’d like to ask your advice in making the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s (CEP’s) data display stronger.
Here are two examples of the way our charts look now (click on the images to enlarge them).
We’ve tweaked these charts here and there over the past few years, but we still hear from some funders, and in our 3rd party feedback, that these charts can be tough to understand. On the other hand, some of the funders we work with love these for the amount of information they pack into a small space. We think we can improve these charts. Although any change may not be immediate, we want to brainstorm now some other possibilities. Fundamentally, any data display we use has to meet just a few basic parameters. It must:
- be flexible enough to display a potential segmentation of the overall data, display trend data, and (probably) also a sub-group comparison – a cohort from among the full dataset
- simultaneously display both an absolute scale and relative results (because both are necessary pieces of information in interpreting results)
- display comparative context so that one funder can consider its relative results compared to our database of others’ results
Keeping with the core CEP values of transparency and feedback, we’d like to enlist your help. The readers of this blog and the users of our tools know CEP’s work well, and I think you probably have some opinions and ideas just waiting to be set free. We’d welcome the advice. (Or a recommendation for a great data visualization expert you might have worked with. This is too small a project for the couple we’ve reached out to.) So please leave a comment with your idea. Scribble a chart idea, scan it, and upload it to our comments. Point us in the direction of something you think is analogous. Help us generate some ideas about this absolutely critical piece of our work. What’s in it for you? The knowledge that you aided CEP in its efforts to help foundations become more effective. And, if we choose an idea you suggested, a very public and grateful acknowledgement for your efforts and ideas. Thanks in advance for your help.