Charity App

Problem: How can we make it easier to donate to charity?

Stage 1: Brainstorm


This prompt struck me right away as a chance to leverage some of what we know about human psychology to make charity donations easier, namely Dick Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s Nudge theory. First I took some time to think about the barriers that keep people from donating, and the ways we could use Nudge to overcome those. Then I took a few pages of notes to flesh out these thoughts and give myself an idea of what this kind of project would eventually look like.


Some notes

More notes

More notes

Problems with charity donation

I think the central problems with charity donation are:

  1. The user has to make several decisions and commit to them.

  2. Giving overall is an active, not passive, choice.

My main goal here is to create a system that changes both of these, based on Nudge theory. The central idea behind Nudge doesn’t sound all that revolutionary: people are much more likely to take a default option (passive decision) than to go out of their way to make an active decision.

Ways around these problems

We can solve both of these problems by making decisions easier and bundling them together. When the user enrolls into the system, default values should be selected for amount, cause, and frequency of donations. By bundling the initial decisions together, we can make the onboarding process easier and quicker.

Another, more aggressive form of decision bundling is for this system to bundle onto another system (I think of it as “piggybacking”). When a person is hired at a company, they fill out some paperwork for their W4 (how much of their paycheck will be withheld for taxes). Why not have them fill out one more form enrolling them in a charitable giving program at even 1% of their salary? Again, this gets at the Nudge theory; we’re making giving the default, in this case by packaging it with another decision that the user has already made.

With that in mind, here are some requirements for the project:

  1. It should have the lowest possible barrier to entry. Ideally it would involve one decision at one time, and ideally that decision would be passive rather than active (opt-out rather than opt-in), like when the user starts a new job.

  2. It should be easy to monitor or change your commitment, or change which causes you contribute to. This is where an actual app could come in. We want to make it easier for people to do a thing they already want to do, not trick them into doing something they don’t want to do.

  3. It should never make people feel bad about not giving enough. It should make them feel good about their contribution. (This is something I thought about in the next stage).


Stage 2: Low-Fi Mockups (and more brainstorming)


Here I started thinking about the processes involved in onboarding, as well as how users would update their preferences for what cause they donate to, how frequently, and in what amount.


Onboarding Ideas

This page contains a few ideas about the onboarding process. Here I’m assuming that this takes the form of an app that users download when they are hired by a company. I think that’s super clunky (and adds more barriers!), so this will have to change eventually.

Something I really like here is having markers of how much impact they will have on an annual or lifetime basis with the selected settings. By telling them the accumulated effects of their donation (e.g., annually) we can make them feel good about what they’re about to do.

Menu Ideas

Here are some ideas for how people could view and change their donation settings. I think before they see their settings and have the chance to save them, we should make them feel good about what they’ve donated. This could also deter them from lowering their donation amount.

Generally, when using a completely voluntary app/system, I think it’s a good idea to never make users feel bad. If we make them feel bad, they will opt out. Conversely, I think if we give them a sense of pride in their own generosity, they will keep at it.






Stage 3: Wireframing in Sketch

This project is ongoing! Here’s where I am at this point. I’ll keep posting as I go though!