Our team was inspired by the recent events of the pandemic and the social injustice movements. These adversities showed us how communities unite and become stronger for the right causes as well as how they affect our individual wellbeing.

Although every individual is unique in their set of values, media and social platforms aided all of us to become more educated in these complex dynamics and become active contributors to those in need. We decided to create a platform that will motivate a community of individuals with the same interests and causes to raise more donations than they would alone.

What it does

BeCause presents opportunities for individuals to donate to a non-profit organization (NGO) based on the causes they are interested in and activities that will improve their personal wellbeing. It aims to benefit three users simultaneously: donors, NGOs, and corporate partners.

Donors browse given opportunities called “challenges”. These are presented in partnerships with NGOs. Challenges are community-based and the platform encourages community-building through profiles, badges, and other social network-like tools. Donors are not required to participate in challenges as their community participation alone may motivate others to join and give. Challenges address the user’s need of being part of a bigger community while contributing to a cause.

NGOs select challenges from a partner’s application. At launch, we chose two partners to provide the challenges, STRAVA and Calm, which are fitness and meditation applications, respectively. The challenges they create require participants to use their apps as a way to track progress. As participants sign up for challenges, partners will gain more user traction on their applications. When participants finish the challenge, partners will match 10% of the individual donation to the overall funds. There is motivation from both the participants’ and partners’ ends to reach the final donation goal faster, ultimately benefiting the NGO.

Partners gain users, NGOs get donations and support, and Donors donate to a good cause while also improving their mental and physical wellbeing.

How we built it

Our team interviewed frequent donors for their experience with the different donation methods. We received insight that although donors want to share causes with friends and family, this can sometimes be uncomfortable because individuals have different values that should not be imposed. Allowing the user to donate privately and connect with others who are interested in similar causes empowers users to team up and donate more to like-minded causes.

We prototyped in Figma and built a simple web application using React on the frontend, and powered our backend using Google’s Firebase for data storage and hosting. We leveraged Progress’s Kendo React UI Library to quickly add and iterate on various components, such as forms, buttons, date pickers, and charts.

About our team

We are a team of incoming Master of Design students at the University of California Berkeley. We discovered this hackathon at the beginning of May and immediately started brainstorming and interviewing users. Although we have yet to meet each other, we are driven by the need to make tools to empower and encourage everyone to give to causes in these great times of need.

Challenges we ran into

We ran into multiple challenges due to time constraints:

  1. We only had time to interview individual donors, but not organizations and partners. For the sake of time, we understand that we are making a lot of assumptions based on other fundraising models.
  2. We could not implement the entire concept. Although our main product differentiation is the community aspect, we chose to emphasize showing the flow of the user joining the challenge and how an NGO would create the challenge as a preview of the final product.
  3. Insight from user interviews drove multiple design iterations, so we had to simplify the design of the web application. An example is a simpler User Profile page that shows an example of ongoing and complete challenges. Originally, the design included a “Community” section to show friends and family that the user is connected with, but we chose to take this out to emphasize the challenge section.
  4. Additionally, we chose to not design and code every feature that the web application should do. This includes user profile settings, payment settings, privacy settings, or the process of partners signing up. Choosing not to design certain features does not mean that we do not care about those features. Our user interviews showed that privacy was very important as an option to donors, however, we felt that designing this feature under time constraints would not emphasize where BeCause excels.
  5. In the end, we could not execute all of the wireframes and design concepts to the web application. Some examples are:
    1. We included Kendo React’s MultiSelect component as part of the wireframe when the user filters out challenges. However, this filter function did not make it into the web app.
    2. We designed a User Profile for both the participant and non-profit organization
  6. We compromised on some visual aspects. The choices listed under Causes and Activities ideally would have had images in them for visual accessibilities, however, we had to simplify to just words for now.
  7. The challenges shown are concepts, along with partners and organizations. We did not have the time to actually negotiate real challenges, establish partnership agreements with NGOs and Sponsors.
  8. We also did not have time to perform detailed user testing although plan to do so over the summer in the next phase of this project.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  1. Our concept creates a triple win for donors, NGOs, and sponsors described in our “triangle of benefits” on the homepage. We feel that this idea is unique and would be excited to extend this project to find out where it goes for all involved parties.
  2. Learning about Kendo React UI components and how we can incorporate them into our designs.
  3. Executing thoughts from our heads and seeing them come to life in under 3 weeks from start to finish.
  4. Obtaining real feedback from donors and discussing issues around values and reacting to our challenges as a society.
  5. The potential that this concept can be applied today and is needed.
  6. Our team collaboration despite hectic and irregular schedules including full-time work schedules and work across time zones internationally.
  7. The first hackathon by UC Berkeley’s Master of Design Fall 2022 cohort, completed in three weeks.

What we learned

  1. We learned how to leverage Kendo React components, which made design and development easier and faster.
  2. Some of us come from non-coding backgrounds, so it was fun learning how to collaborate with a software developer and other designers.
  3. Don’t become too attached to the idea even though it sounds amazing. User research can drastically change the hypothesis. As problem-solvers for social impact, we need to be flexible with changing concepts quickly to ensure that we are solving the right problem.
  4. Under time constraints, we learned how to prioritize different phases of the design thinking process to get to the next milestone. For example, we ideally would perform additional user research and build user personas before designing, however, we needed to manage the project in an agile manner rather than waterfall. We learned how to determine if a feature was worth detailing or not based on user needs and competitive analysis.
  5. Our initial idea was to create a web app that rounds up certain purchased transactions for an NGO but found an exact web app that already does that through competitive analysis. This kind of research helped us to identify our product's value in the market, without reinventing the wheel.

What's next

Our team felt that this was a great exercise to start a long-term project. Going forward, we will interview organizations and potential sponsors to hear concerns that our application may have missed. We will reach out to Strava and Calm for their thoughts on the concept of matching donating funds based on challenges. We will work through the features with users in detail while including stakeholder feedback along the way to ensure our design captures the user’s needs. Afterward, we would like to release the MVP for user testing and launch. We are excited to see where this project will take us!

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