"I Have a Dream"

In-kind Donation Experience

Project Details

As part of a 5-day design sprint, we were tasked with creating an end-to-end donation experience for an existing non-profit, NGO, or charitable social enterprise of our team's choosing.

The "I Have A Dream" Foundation is a charity that works to empower children (also referred to as Dreamers) in under-resourced communities to graduate from college by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to succeed in postsecondary school. 

Duration: 5 Days
Team: 3 UX Designers (Melissa, Thanakone, Rachael Soglin, Sofia Lorenzini)

My Role: UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer, User Testing
Tools: Figma

The Problem Space

For many, a lack of disposable income puts giving money to even the most impactful charities out of reach. However, the desire to take action, give gifts, or resources that extends beyond money is still there (1).

Although the "I Have a Dream" foundation has valuable, engaging content related to their cause throughout their website, we uncovered their donation page does little to facilitate the online giving of in-kind (non-monetary) donations. This leaves those visiting their website without money to give with limited ability to contribute to positive social change.

1 Fidelity Charitable, 2018


What Does Current
Research Say?

  • 43% of people say they do not donate because they lack financial stability (Giving Report, 2018) 

  • 4 out of 5 people are more likely to donate when they have a personal relationship with an organization (Blackbaud Institute, 2020) 

  • 20% of people volunteer as an alternate source of donation 
    (CCS Fundraising, 2018) 

To turn this problem space into a defined and actionable design challenge, we asked ourselves:

How might we help facilitate impactful in-kind donations, from adults who want to add value to the lives of youths, to drive action and long-term positive social change?


We believe that creating alternate pathways to giving will incentivize donors to give support and feel connected to the foundation, and will ultimately help drive positive change.

We will know this is true when we see an increase in donors who donate to the "I Have a Dream" foundation.

Defining Our Goal
& Assumptions

To help us align our focus for the week-long sprint, my team members and I outlined a project goal.

Our Goal: 
Provide donors with alternate pathways to donate that go beyond just monetary giving.

We also created a list of assumptions to validate through qualitative research and to ensure we identified the right issues within our problem space.


  • Donors want to donate non-monetarily
  • Providing options to donate non-monetarily will inspire donors to continuously grow their support with a charity 
  • The most impactful non-monetary donations include giving technology, mentorship, volunteer, and job opportunities 
  • Dreamers of the foundation will benefit from non-monetary donations

Diving Deeper

Primary Research 

3 key themes emerged from our interview data:

Qualitative research was conducted over zoom and we spoke with a total of 5 participants to better understand the common needs, goals, and motivations of our target user.


Lack of Transparency
Users do not donate because they’re unaware of the true nature of an organization and lack insight into the effectiveness and impact of a charity’s efforts.


Barriers to Donating Monetarily
A lack of disposable income poses a barrier to donating. Users also don't feel compelled to donate with cash because there is no emotional connection with a charity. 


Willingness To Donate Beyond Just Money
People are open to the idea of volunteering vs cash as a form of donation because they are aware of the intrinsic value and benefits of social outreach. 

Our research validated that users have an interest in donating non-monetarily, but more specifically in the form of volunteering. We decided to hone in on this as the key insight for our solution. People are more inclined to volunteer as a form of donation because it offers a sense of relating, community, and camaraderie with a charity.

Primary User Persona

We synthesized our research findings and developed a user persona. Nicholas Ray is a representation of donors who want to create social change but finds limitations when a charity accepts monetary gifts as the only form of donation.

As we moved through the design process, Nicholas helped us stayed anchored on who we were designing for and also formed a foundation for us to move into the ideation phase. 


Sofia Lorenzini, Rachael Soglin, Melissa Thanakone

Experience Map

An experience map was developed to understand Nicholas' end-to-end experience with donating to the "I Have a Dream" website. By putting ourselves in Nicholas' shoes, we were able to empathize with his needs and identify opportunities for design intervention. 

We chose to focus on the Viewing Options to Donate phase, as this presented two major points of friction and prevented Nicholas from contributing to the foundation. 


Revised by Melissa Thanakone

Developing a Solution

From our completed research we began to sketch out concepts for our MVP and user flow. We then dot-voted and collectively aligned on our favourite elements from each sketch. Below are the key features we defined for our solution:


Sketch by Sofia Lorenzini

Cash and In-Kind Donation Option

  • Add a tab and provide users with the option to choose between a cash donation or an in-kind donation
  • Help users get involved with the foundation by becoming a mentor

Sketch by Sofia Lorenzini

Highlight Mentorship Opportunities 

  • Guide users to choose from a variety of mentorship opportunities
  • Feature testimonials and experiences from past mentors

Sketch by Sofia Lorenzini

Join Our Community 

  • Create an experience where users can fill out their information and submit an application to become a mentor

Design Decisions

With a deeper understanding of our target user and a solid foundation in place, we began the process of designing our hi-fidelity prototype. Two considerations were made going into the creation of our solution:

Responsive Website VS Mobile App

When people look for volunteer information related to charities, it is often that users will start on their web browser instead of a mobile app (1).

With this learning, we chose to prioritize improving the foundation's mobile website for our solution.

1 ThinkMobiles, 2021


Leveraging Existing Brand Guidelines

The "I Have a Dream" foundation is a well-recognized charity with strong visual branding. To ensure there was consistency across their current branding and our solution, we developed the mobile website leveraging the foundation's existing colour palette and typographic style.   


Usability Testing

We conducted 5 usability tests of the first hi-fidelity prototype and evaluated how users completed the mentorship application form.

Below is a summary of our test results as well as a matrix that we used to prioritize the feedback received.

Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.

Given the time constraints for the sprint, we chose to prioritize the most pressing issues based on the value to the users and the effort to fix them. Below are the changes we implemented:

  • Misleading graphic on the donation page 
  • Confusing mentorship options on the donation page  
  • Unclear CTA copy on the career readiness page 

Putting The Pieces Together

Sofia and I took on the role of establishing the UI library and producing the prototype, while Rachael played a key role in developing the copy so it aligned with the foundation's tone of voice.

Interact with the latest iteration of our hi-fidelity prototype below.

Measuring Sucess

To measure the success of the "I Have a Dream" in-kind donation experience we would evaluate:



The Growth of Mentorship Donations
To validate if there is traction with the mentorship program, there's an opportunity to measure the mentorship application and participation rate.


Increased Positive Social Change
By measuring the number of "Dreamers" mentored and their satisfaction with the program this can help determine whether  mentorship provides value to the foundation and moves the needle on increasing positive social change.

Key Learnings 

  • Working Fast With A New Team 
    To work efficiently, my team and I assigned specific goals to achieve each day while collaborating both asynchronously and synchronously. 

  • Users Come First and Always Validate 
    Conducting thorough research, clearly defining our problem space, and deeply understanding our target user only led us to produce a stronger, viable solution. It was critical for my team and me to continuously refer back to our research and user feedback to validate our solution. 

  • Accessibility Design
    Although we adhered to the foundation's existing brand colours, there's an opportunity to revise our solution so it fully complies with WCAG AA standards as a next step. This would help ensure our solution is accessible for all users.

Melissa Thanakone —
UX/UI Designer

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