Have Data, Will Visualize

This submission is a first for HelpMeViz. A foundation sent in their data and need help visualizing the data. Have fun.

This spreadsheet summarizes the 300 grants awarded by our foundation in the past year. It includes the type of grant awarded, length, amount, geographical area served, and programmatic focus area. We regularly track this information in spreadsheets but we have never visualized the information in any charts. Sometimes it’s helpful for us to break out the information (for example, by geographical area or program area) but overall patterns are also useful for us to see. We’re not sure where to start and would appreciate any ideas, from simple sketches, to a chart(s), to a 1-page graphical summary like a dashboard or infographic. Thank you!

(Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc)

3 thoughts on “Have Data, Will Visualize

  1. A topic I feel obligated to bring up to commenters, submitters and administrators of HelpMeVis: providing advice and expertise is awesome… but providing spec work is not (please read http://www.nospec.com/faq). I mention this because this is the first HelpMeVis that brought up the topic of producing a full-fledged infographics (or even preliminary sketches)… creating that sort of stuff requires a lot of time, energy, creativity, and expertise. The simple fact is that labor ought to be compensated. I bring this up not to rabble-rouse or scare anybody: merely to inform. From the sound of things, submitter, you represent a non-profit organization? If that’s the case, and if you really want somebody to do the heavy lifting of analysis/storytelling/design for you, you should be able to find skilled freelance information designers who would give non-profits a discounted (or even pro bono) rate.

    With that out of the way, let’s dig into that spreadsheet! I have to admit, upon opening it up the contents were both exciting and disappointing.

    Exciting because: there’s a lot of potential here: a sizable chunk of multivariate data that is ripe for drawing connections and discovering insights.

    Disappointing because: in order to discover those insights, a person needs to know what they’re looking for. We don’t know what services you provide, submitter: nor do we know your mission, or what your everyday challenges are, or your biggest accomplishments, who your clients are, your marketing goals… it’s only against the backdrop of such context that a humble collection of data can be transformed into insights and stories.

    Here’s some simple questions you could answer with this data.

    1. The biggest grants go to… which geographic area? Which types of grant? Which program area?
    2. What program type… receives the biggest grants? Is most common in each geographic area?
    3. What is the average (mean) value of grants… for a given geographic area? For a given type of grant? For a given program area?

    I expect many of them are things your organization already knows well. But if any of these sound like something you might want to learn more about, your job is as easy as playing around with the filter, math, and graph options in Excel.

  2. I used the app at http://raw.densitydesign.org/ to create a quick Sankey-style diagram, weighted by value of grant.
    I grabbed colours from the flags for the states, and went a bit OTT on colours for Program Area. Not sure if this is the best arrangement, but it filled 15 mins after lunch.
    With more time, I’d like to add some lines to better denote the number of grants in each stream. And sort the colours out.

  3. Hi,

    I threw the data into Tableau Public and created a simple exploratory dashboard, which you can view here:


    This might be a good starting point to help you get a sense of what additional data you might want to pull in to dig deeper. Hope this helps.


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