charity: water's Online Fundraising Platform

One of charity: water’s core products is the online fundraising platform. We strongly believe in the power of the mass and community to make an impact on the water crisis.

As lead product designer I worked with our team to continuously improve charity: water’s fundraising experience - improve campaign conversion, campaign creation flow, increase activation and engagement. 

In the past 7 years we’ve raised over 39 million dollars for clean water through over 200,000 fundraising campaigns. 

Our campaigners have done some pretty amazing things to raise money for clean water and have shown us that the craziest thing we can do is nothing. They’ve climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, biked across the United States and driven rickshaws across India. Starting a campaign is easy, you quickly set one up, ask your friends & family for donations and when your campaign is finished we’ll show you exactly where your money goes and who it helped! 

The craziest thing you can do is nothing.

Even though our fundraising platform has been super successful, as of 2016 we had a 51% activation rate. That means half the people who are creating campaigns don’t even going on to raise a dollar. What happened? We inspired you enough to campaign. Was it misleading? Did we not support you enough? We wanted to find out why and test out solutions.

To get to the bottom of it, I created and lead an internal 8-person user research team called Scout to conduct usability studies to gain qualitative feedback about our users. Scout performs research sprints on a specific subject, gets answers and then reports back to stakeholders with findings. One of our most recent sprints were focused on our campaign activation rate. 


We identified 200 campaigners who campaigned within the last 6 months. We chose a variety of campaigner segments from who never raised a dollar to those who surpassed their campaigning goal. We measured success if got at least 50 of them on the phone for a minimum of 15 minutes.



We asked campaigners what compelled them to fundraise and what was their fundraising strategy. We wanted to understand the difference between the people who started receiving donations and those who did not. 

Does showing number of people served impact the goal?

We invited 10 people who were on varying degrees of the campaigning scale to the office for in person user testing. 4 volunteers who’ve never started a campaign, 3 Campaigners who've never reached their goal, and 3 Campaigners who've reached their goal. Check out the video clips below for a sneak peak.

We learned choosing a campaign goal was hard.

People get stuck and then commit to amounts that don’t set them up for success. We found that it was a blocker for many and loses the connection to the impact their campaign is actually making to real people around the world. 

What if we tailored goal depending on what time of campaign you run or have a goal calculator? Another possibility is to test out a feature that shows the number of people your campaign could help depending on the goal amount you enter. We A/B tested adding a people served calculator and learned that it increased their goal amount and increased conversions on the campaign creation flow.


We also wanted to improve conversions on the campaign creation phase. Does the shorter form improve activation and create successful campaigners?

In the past we made assumptions that asking more questions to the campaigner make them feel more invested in their campaign and therefore raise more money. So we designed a test that challenged that assumption. 

The shorter version saw a conversion increase of 34.1% and saw no decrease in goal amount, activation rate, raise amount.