Axure / Invision





Online giving in the U.S. now exceeds $20 billion annually and has continued to grow at double-digit rates for most of the past decade. More donors are embracing online giving; these donors are driving the shift to online for a variety of reasons, including convenience and mobility. Giving to nonprofits is unnecessarily complicated and requires a simpler way to donate.


The challenge remained to test and explore the hypothesis that a single platform which allows non-profit organizations to post their on-going needs will increase donations and donor satisfaction and will encourage repeat donations. This was unique in that two sides should be considered as opposed to one targeted user type. The end design must be a platform effectively bringing together nonprofits and donors yet serving the needs of each individually, behind the scenes.



While our goals hinged on proving or disproving the given hypothesis, the team kept an open approach to gathering all relevant information to allow our findings to drive the scope and direction for the finished product. Specific research objectives were identified to drive our research methods. 

Research objectives

  • Will a single platform increase donations and donor satisfaction and will it encourage repeat donations?
  • Will this be attained using a mobile application, website, or both?
  • What is the donation reception process?
  • What are the pain points of receiving donations?
  • What types of resources are needed by nonprofits?

Research methods

  • User survey
  • Domain and market research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Exploratory interviews.


90% of donors donate money to nonprofits

90% of donors donate money to nonprofits

The top struggle donors experience is with trusting non profits

The top struggle donors experience is with trusting non profits

Most donors make donations over the computer as opposed to other devices 

Most donors make donations over the computer as opposed to other devices 


The survey included 10 questions about donor habits and receives over 200 responses in less than twelve hours. The survey results gave insights telling us most donors are donating money to non profit organizations over items and volunteer time, the top struggle with making a donation is a trust issue, and digitally-made donations are being made on a computer as opposed to a smartphone. From here we wanted to take this information and see if our remaining research uncovered the same patterns, and what else we can uncover about donors and nonprofits as well. We also want to see if platforms existed in the market that already address our findings.


Successful nonprofit practices

  • Concentrated funding
  • Match with beneficiaries
  • Organized Structure

Competitive analysis

Donor Motivations

  • Join larger movement
  • Reasonable incentive
  • Appearances     

The competitive analysis revealed an opening in the market for a platform providing a space to bring vetted, trusted nonprofits to one place and provide an easy digital way to donate. This is completely absent in websites while organizations scarcely offer an app for donating in the first place. The lack of donation apps could have been because of poor execution, or because it wasn't an effective platform for donations. That became something to explore and take into consideration during our research.

Exploratory interviews

35 exploratory interviews were conducted as teams and transcribed to share-out as a group before deriving insights. Interview questions were tailored towards three types of interviewees we identified crucial to interview to fulfill research objectives. 

  • Stakeholders: Nonprofit founders, owners, or CEOs
  • Users: Donors
  • Subject matter experts: Nonprofit associates


Affinity diagramming


To find natural patterns in our interview content we spent time affinity diagramming (breaking down information found in research to then organize and rearrange to see trends and how they relate to each other) which yielded core desires of nonprofit organizations and donors.

Donor Desires

  • Transparency
  • Authenticity
  • Tax Deduction
  • Feel Good

Nonprofit Desires

  • Donation Tracking capabilities
  • Ease of use
  • Low maintenanc e

Empathy tool development



"Culturally-aware donor"


"Socially-motivated volunteer"


"Compassionate busy bee"


The key personas uncovered were Eric, Jane and Alex. It was especially important we understood our personas’ motivations, mental models, goals, and lifestyle to develop a product that would match their needs. It was found there were critical pain points to address on both the donor and nonprofit side of the equation to make a platform to successfully accomplish what was set out in our hypothesis. From here we kept those needs at the forefront of our design decisions. Our next step was to better understand our personas' current processes through journey mapping to pinpoint where these pain points are occurring.

Journey mapping


Key to understanding the pain points and desires of our personas, we developed Journey Maps from the donor and nonprofit perspective. This gave us further insight into where our product could alleviate pain points and solve problems. Utilizing these findings we developed problem statements for both donors and nonprofits to ensure we were addressing the needs of each during ideation and development.

Donor problem statement

Donors have a difficult time finding trustworthy NPOs that relate to what they are interested in donating to.

Nonprofit problem statement

NPOs don’t have an effective way to communicate their needs in a transparent way.




Design principles




Design principles were established to address the problem statement. They made a strong design framework for the team to keep in mind during the next phase of the project: ideation.



Each team member quickly ideated concepts following our design principles to best solve for the problem statement. We then each sketched out a low fidelity flow of our top design. Two separate but cohesive flows had to be developed, considering both donors and nonprofits.

Several web concepts and two mobile concepts came out of concept sketching. The team voted on top features by marking directly on the sketches and the instructor chose two concepts to take into concept validation testing. My web concept was chosen. The decision was based on who best addressed the problem statement using the design principles. These concepts would move forward into concept validation to refine the flow of and verify viability before taking into wireframes. 

Concept 1: website focused on crowdfunding for specific nonprofit campaigns

Concept 2: mobile app allowing coordination of all donation types



Testing part 2

During the second round of usability testing the goal was to identify where the updated flow was not seamless and intuitive. We also wanted to better understand what our user wanted to see and and how they wanted to be able to accomplish tasks on our application.

Testing part 1

During the first part of usability testing our goal was to identify any major flow and concept changes that should be made to better fit the user's’ needs. We also wanted to understand whether the mobile application concept, or web application concept was more desired and efficient.

Part 1 insights

Most participants found both prototypes easy to use in terms of making a donation. They found the website more confusing when completing certain tasks, but also found it a more complete experience in terms of features when compared to the mobile prototype. Users were most concerned with trustworthiness and liked the reviews and recommendations each prototype provided, but wanted more from each. Users liked the ease of use of a mobile app when tracking donations on each side (donor and nonprofit) but not at the sake of search abilities and other features. Users preferred to donate their money online on a website but would like the payment features to be streamlined and made more trustworthy. Implementing the recommendations and continuing to work with users would ensure a continued user-centered product.

Testing showed a website was necessary to house all the complexities involved in complete tracking and managing of donations, and was better for searching for new nonprofits to donate to. Testing also showed using mobile felt easy to many users, and users saw an application for it in the simpler parts of the donation or tracking process. The team therefore decided to move forward with the web concept, and also make a responsive version for mobile.

Part 2 insights


  • Home page needed to be reorganized to show what SEVA is for donors v non profits and tell how it works, followed by testimonials and then Join the Movement
  • On the explore page we needed an option to filter and sort searches and save interests
  • For the nonprofit dashboard we needed to make the left tabs static so users can see the menu at all times
  • The top navigation bar should be fixed to show even when scrolling you have the capability to search and explore the site


  • Wanted further information directly on home-page as to what nonprofits can do
  • Wanted more detailed interface on reaching out to donors
  • Wanted dashboard tabs to be on the screen at all times









Taking into consideration our findings from the rounds of testing we were able to produce final wireframes. Our final solution, branded as SEVA was a platform fitting the needs of donors and nonprofits alike, simplifying the process of tracking donations and making more trustworthy and welcoming the prospect of finding a cause meaningful to you, and then donating to their efforts. We handed over the final wireframes to the UI team who then took branding concepts they’d been developing while we were finalizing the applications, into high-fidelity mock-ups of SEVA.




Future recommendations

  • Find a way to make it easier for nonprofits to communicate with their donors with updates on their fund allocation
  • Explore desired level and type of social activity user wants



Isolate your variables

During testing between the initial mobile and web concepts, the two were not identical products. One served only financial donations while the other served all three categories of donations (money, items, time). This was primarily done because of time constraints however did somewhat decrease statistical relevance of our results of mobile v. web, and fiscal application v. serving all three types of donations. Time permitting, my future A/B tests will focus on one isolated variable at a time.