Why We Love Mind Maps

Nonprofits often wonder how we begin our process making videos, especially since multiple departments often have to work in tandem.    We definitely start with an information gathering meeting where a slice of people are present — it may include representation from marketing, giving, outreach, and programming.  Usually the most helpful people are the ones that have actually been in contact with those receiving help.  Once we have these people gathered in a room, we are able to work together to draw a picture of the nonprofit organization — a mind map.

Mind maps look similar to family trees, except that they use values, objectives and ideas to answer the question, “Who are we?”.  Drawing simple icons or stick figures is extremely helpful in this process, because it simplifies the entire picture and activates the other side of the brain.  As people look at what is being drawn, the images may trigger other thoughts that add more meaning.  It’s also refreshing as most people are used to PowerPoint slides and lectures. We prefer to have the people at the table do the drawing because it leads to a more open conversation.  However, in some cases where the group is more rigid, it can also work to have those leading the meeting do the drawing.

This technique is just one of many used in creative problem solving, and we feel that every video starts with a problem.   For a nonprofit it may be, “How do we explain our program?” or “How do we get buy-in from our constituents?”.   By the end of the session, both parties get something out of the process.  For us, we are able to have a quick snapshot of the nonprofit, which will lead us directly into the next step of creating concepts or pitches for the video.  For the nonprofit, they now have a different global look at their organization — one that they rarely take the time to create themselves.  We realize that most people may laugh when they see kid-like drawings, so we take the time to make a fancier version by re-creating it in a mind map program.  There are several nice ones on the market, including free app’s for phones.  Once printed out, the mind maps become great one-pagers for Board meetings and employee/volunteer trainings.  So, if you haven’t already given it a try, do a little experiment at your next meeting and let us know how it works out.