Creating a Movement Picture
Information Design

Creating a Movement Picture


The Movement Picture is a product in the Strengthening Movement Coordination and Cooperation (SMCC) toolkit that reflects the collective impact and action of the Movement in an emergency response. Reserved for large emergencies where the National Society, IFRC, and ICRC are all responding, the Movement Picture helps tell a single story and raise the visibility of everyone’s collective actions. 

In larger operations, most of the information reflected on Movement Pictures is already part of existing data pipelines that Information Management teams typically set up. For example, a 3W map is a common component to include, and an operation will likely have already set up the data collection process to capture that information. 

Therefore, the most important thing to keep in mind when an operation indicates that they would like to produce a Movement Picture is that the conversation with relevant stakeholders begins as early as possible—not because it will require entirely new systems to capture the information, but because the IFRC, ICRC, and National Society all need to be made aware of their own responsibilities for data sharing and agree on approval processes. In our experience, the most time-consuming parts of the Movement Picture production process are ensuring that relevant stakeholders all have an opportunity to provide feedback and determining who gets a final say on issues where there is disagreement.

Kick Off

As a well-socialized product in the Movement, the initial request for a Movement Picture typically comes from an operational leader or someone in Geneva. Any event large enough to request a Movement Picture likely has a deployed IM Coordinator or an experienced IM focal point within the National Society or region—they should be the primary convener of the relevant parties in the field. If there is a Movement Coordination delegate, they will be in a better position to coordinate with the ICRC. Either way, ensure there is a single person from the IFRC-side of the operation championing the product and serving as the interlocutor with ICRC.

Terms of Reference

Though the Movement Picture has become well-socialized, there will still be teams that benefit from a concise explanation about this product’s purpose and what key stakeholders’ responsibilities are. This can be particularly important for National Societies, whose buy-in is necessary in order to produce and approve of the Movement Picture for the operation. A Terms of Reference (ToR) articulates a vision for the product’s purpose, the expected level of support requested from each side, and a general timeline for each phase of the process. 


The ToR should spell out the scope of the product in bullets. Getting agreement on a list like this helps avoid scope creep once the process gets underway. Here’s an example of that list for a recent Movement Picture ToR:  

  • Overview of humanitarian needs that the Movement sees as urgent. 
  • Articulation of how the Movement is working together in this response and emphasize the central role of the Host NS. 
  • Holistic picture of people reached in the country.
  • Summary of NS volunteer network in the country.
  • Overview of sectors of focus in the context and Movement partners on the ground.
  • A timeline of high-level operational milestones.
  • Key Humanitarian Diplomacy messages.
  • A table could be added showing the sectors of interest/focus of partners. 

Intended Outcome

Succinctly describe the purpose of the product. Think in terms of “elevator pitches”, as this ToR may end up being used by stakeholders that are tasked with getting buy-in from decision-makers. For example: 

To show in one snapshot the holistic reach and impact of the Red Pillar in this context through a short and visually-focused document which will be updated based on an agreed upon schedule throughout the response, and which can be used to position the Red Pillar to show the true reach and impact of the Movement response; articulate the activities and sectors of interest of the National Society; and articulate the activities (including support to the National Society) and sectors of interest of Movement partners active in the country.

Resources Needed

Once a decision has been made to create a Movement Picture, it is important to communicate that this is not any single person’s responsibility, but a team effort that will require engagement from several elements of the operation for data collection, design, and approval. List out the roles that will be needed. For example: 

  • Host National Society: The IM focal point will facilitate the data collection process for the National Society, based on the list of agreed-upon indicators. The National Society President will provide final sign-off on the data.
  • ICRC: The ICRC’s IM focal point for the operation will oversee the data collection and consolidation process for ICRC activities. The ICRC’s country-representative will provide final sign-off on the data.
  • IFRC: The IM Coordinator will oversee the data consolidation process, and facilitate the layout and design of the product. The Head of Emergency Operations will provide final sign-off on the product.
  • Additional resources:
    • The SMCC Movement Implementation Team on Operational Data (led by Canadian Red Cross) will engage in the process. 


Establishing a shared timeline helps keep the team members accountable, and communicate to relevant stakeholders when they can expect to see drafts and have access to the final draft. Remember that Movement Pictures tend to have multiple public revisions, so it’s important to harmonize the plan against key operational milestones. For instance, if we know the Operational Strategy will be revised in two months, then there’s a good chance that some activities will change, and consequently, that those changes will need to be reflected in the product.

Lay out key dates when certain milestones will need to be met, and when key decisions need to be made. As mentioned, the Movement Picture development process’ largest bottleneck tends to be approvals rather than the actual design. 


As no two responses ever look exactly alike, it has not been possible to this point to create a single, unified template. The product typically consists of: 

  • A cover page with a photo and a joint statement
  • Statistics related to beneficiaries supported by Red Cross Red Crescent
  • A visual representation of the geographic reach of the operation
  • Selected beneficiary stories that are indicative of the support being provided

Begin the conversation of the design early, as each one of these elements, as well as any others you choose to include, carries their own workflows and approval processes. 


SIMS should always strive to make use of tools that are accessible to the National Society. However, given the communications-focus of the product, we’ve tended to find the best tool for this job to be Adobe InDesign or Illustrator. The former is built to handle products that include lots of text and need to be laid out for print, and is the recommended solution in spite of the fact that it isn’t free or widely-used by many lesser resourced National Societies. Many SIMS members do have access to Adobe licenses, and can under certain circumstances be procured on a temporary basis for those that don’t. 


Given the visual nature of the Movement Picture and the fact that we always include a map of some sort, the product should be laid out in landscape orientation. These are frequently printed out for meetings and conferences, so the page size should be set to A4.



As with any communications product, the cover should stand out at a glance. We typically include a photograph from the operation of a volunteer or beneficiary engaged in an activity. Getting agreement about photos can be a time-consuming process, so start with a placeholder that you can build around. 

The joint statement—a paragraph or two that gives some brief context on the emergency and how the collective Movement is responding jointly—is also a common element on the cover. The language typically doesn’t need to be drafted specifically by IM, but in order to speed the process along it can be beneficial to start a rough draft to help operational leadership take over. 

Response Map

As a product intended to tell a high-level story about the reach and impact of our response, a map is another common element in Movement Pictures. Again, no two response maps will ever look the same, but some factors that affect the design include whether this is a regional or country-specific response, the type of emergency, how the IFRC and ICRC have divided the territories where they are working, and the nature of the services being provided. 

For a regional event where multiple affected countries’ National Societies are responding, it’s preferable to limit the map to an admin0 (country-level) scope. The Venezuela Population Movement map provides a good example of this structure. You can view this in the SIMS public portfolio here (remember to log into the site if you want to access the design files).

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