In collaboration with energy and tech-based NGOs, Haitian community activists, and a committee of private donors, The Hwang Family of Silicon Valley is spearheading an assistance program to the recently constructed Haitian village of Canaan. In celebration of their own Korean roots, they named their organization Three Generation Education, to imply that any generation or nation can contribute to the other, regardless of circumstance.
Three Generation Education (3GE) rely heavily on private donations. They needed a public platform to both drive and receive those donations.
UX Designer, Researcher, Web Designer, Front End Developer, Client Touchpoint
Strategy and Research
3GE founders mentioned that in the past, they had received adequate support from their East Coast, grass-roots community. As their scope was growing, we chose to explore how we might engage an international audience more thoroughly. We began by interviewing past donors. I called five donors and asked them about their interests, causes, lifestyles, and what drew them to 3GE.
These interviews were synthesized into needs statements using empathy and as-is scenario mapping. Ideation led to an importance-difficulty matrix.
We found that among the donors, supporting their community was a very big priority for them, even more so than the perceived secondary act of helping a stranger in need, and they had developed that community over time.
We then asked ourselves the question, "Where are the differences between the international community (new users) and the original grassroots community?" This is when we did a competitive analysis. In our study of three NGO websites, we found that the tactics were very similar to what inspired our original users. The focus on community was the same. The difference was that more transparency and storytelling were necessary because less of it was occurring on a natural face-to-face basis.
We determined that the four goals of the website must be to teach, invite participation, inspire donations, and build long-term relationships.
We turned our findings into "How Might We..." statements and began to generate ideas onto post-it notes. This process always ends up being a lot of fun. I find that it is initially difficult to get sensible adults on board with play and the creative process, but the 3GE team were great sports and were quick to find meaningful solutions. We were then able to have a discussion about the feasibility and the impact of these solutions.
Our solution for 3GE involved;
- A storytelling website
- Fun "journey" page to explain their genesis story
- Methods for continuing the story episodically to generate avid followers
- Well-defined goals for each foreseeable project
- Communication of what the accomplishment of those goals will mean
- Clear goal-tracker that will show users that they are needed
- Method of follow-up communication to create community bonds
We tested the new website by sending out an email to our user base, separated into mailing lists as active and passive supporters. We saw an immediate increase in participation and donations.
Within six months, 3GE had raised $15,000 through the website to achieve its goal of installing solar panels for the village of Canaan. They have continued on with new campaigns to encourage education, and are continuing to have success in their endeavors.
An especially interesting result of this project is that it also involves mentoring. The Hwang family was intrigued by the principles of empathy and bias recognition. I shared more with them on the Design Thinking processes Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. The family asked me to increase my involvement in the project by sitting in on a few of their board meetings. I found that many of the same problems that apply to design also apply to philanthropy. As an undergraduate student of Politics at UC Santa Cruz, I learned of the complex task of aid organizations in finding the right solution for those in need.
Three Generation Education now uses the Design Thinking techniques I shared with them, and applies them to their goals as philanthropists in Haiti.
I am honored to have had a positive impact on this caring organization. To this date, 3GE has made possible the building of a school and solar panel installation in Canaan. The experience has been very positive for the locals, and they've come together to establish a parent-teacher union to support the school.
I developed PDFs for The Hwangs on UX empathy processes and Storytelling. If you’d like to use these files, they are available here:
- Empathy Mapping, As-is Scenario Mapping, and Needs Statements – Get to that Pain Point!
- The Art of Storytelling, Just Like Grandma Used to Make