We're able to simplify almost every aspect of our lives through an app these days, from getting up in the morning to finding a petsitter. Yet somehow, giving to charity is still a cumbersome and often confusing process that leaves people unsure if they've given to the right charities, wondering what is happening with their money, and with a headache from all the unsolicited mail they're receiving. And on the other side, charities are desperately trying to find sustaining, rather than one-time, givers. Cradle aims to make things better for both sides, by connecting givers and charities on a platform that provides an easy way to start, and keep on, nurturing the causes they care about.

What it does

Cradle allows users to select charitable causes that they care for and support them at any pledge level. In consequence, Cradle proposes charities that work towards these causes. Once the user selects her monthly pledge, Cradle distributes it among these charities. Users can see how their pledge is distributed. In addition, users can see updates about the charities they support, which Cradles collects from their social-media feeds.

How we built it

We had pretty clear roles in building cradle: Gesina worked on the concept and messaging, including selecting the first set of charities. Philippe took on the backend, written in TypeScript using Express.js, MySQL connectors, and the Twitter module, while Erik worked on the front-end using Vue.js and Vuex. We defined JSON-serving APIs on the fly.

Challenges we ran into

Building out the complete workflow for Cradle was challenging, given our small team size. In the given time, we managed to get the UI and backend to function, apart from making the actual payment process happen. This is future work!

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We got the user flow pretty much working, which was quite a challenge given our small team. We have a representative set of charities integrated, including fetching their Twitter feed and filtering it based on what users support.

What we learned

Charity categorization is hard! It's pretty much impossible to create a categorization that's ideology-agnostic, so we tried to get as close as possible through the lens of our own moral values - but are fully aware that any step in a charitable endeavor will have to brace itself for scrutiny and criticism, and ours is no exception. Also, major challenges ahead will be handling tax deductibility for our users.

What's next for Cradle

We have multiple next steps lined up:

  • Enable payment, possibly using the Stripe API
  • Allow users to propose further charities
  • Expand the social-media that Cradle fetches for users
  • Social media integration: allow users to share their Cradle via Facebook, Twitter etc.; allow reaction to charity activities in the "connect" section; etc.
  • Show users metrics on aggregate giving to causes / charities
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