Mark may be SOFII's 'History Man', but an interest in fundraising from the past runs a little deeper at Bluefrog. Recently, I was interested to learn that Florence Nightingale wasn't only a pioneer in the field of nursing, she was also an innovative fundraiser.*
Take this, for example – Nightingale's Rose Diagram. Is it the world's first infographic?
(Click to enlarge)
This beautiful hand-drawn diagram shows the causes of death during the Crimean war. The chart on the right covers April 1854-March 1855. The chart on the left covers April 1855-March 1856. In red, you can see the number of soldiers dying from their wounds. In black, the number of deaths from other causes. In blue is the number of soldiers dying because of the insanitary conditions in the field hospitals.
Out of 18,000 deaths, 16,000 were due to infectious diseases caught in hospital.
These deaths were preventable as the left hand figure shows. With clean conditions, lives were saved.
So why did Nightingale produce this graph? Well, she wanted to raise money.
The Rose Diagram was part of a confidential report Nightingale prepared for Queen Victoria, detailing what had been learned in the field hospitals – that deaths could be reduced by hygienic practices. Believe it or not, this fairly basic precept of medical treatment was not met with universal agreement. In fact, the Chief Medical Officer at the time was one of many influential voices refuting Nightingale's claim.
She had to prove she was right in order to get greater investment in hospitals throughout the country.
Proving your donor's money will make a difference is at the heart of good fundraising, but I wonder how many charities take as rigorous an approach as Nightingale? And it's not just her use of statistics that impresses. The diagram itself is incredibly engaging visually and the first of its kind.
Unfortunately, I can't say we've ever produced anything so beautiful, but I can think of a couple of great appeals we've done in the past using the same principle of 'before' and 'after' – proving the effectiveness of the work we are asking donors to support. One was for Farm Africa.
Just like Queen Victoria, donors received a specially prepared report (shown below) detailing a scheme we wanted their help to fund. As it had already been through a pilot, we had proof the approach worked.
Inside the report, we showed how fields were planted in the area and explained the problems experienced as a result.
We also produced an infographic, which is nowhere near as lovely as the Rose diagram – room for improvement there!
I hope the Lady of the Lamp has inspired you. Coming soon, a post about what Winston Churchill can teach you about copywriting.
*I was watching The Beauty of Diagrams, BBC4 - did you see it?