Giving Better

Thrown into an unexpected public health crisis people want to help...

Their neighbors, family and friends. The Sentier Strategic team partnered with our class to help create a tool that promoted community and centered around the human connection built by generosity.


They were interested in gaps in current giving models, random acts of kindness and exploring unsolicited giving.


  • Make giving within the community easier and more effective?

  • Create a new way to build connections through generous acts?


This was part of a "Projects in HCI course" at the University of Texas, Austin. Our industry partner was Sentier Strategic Resources, a research and design agency.

June 2020- August 2020


Working mainly on the research team, my responsibilities included:

Secondary Research

Survey creation & data analysis

Generative Interview Moderation

Mapping, Sprint Questions, Concepting

Rite Testing Moderation and Analysis

Final Recommendations 

Team Members

Researchers: Aylin Saribudak & Meg Patton

Project Plan


"Who gives and why?" 

Secondary Research

Competitive Analysis 

Insights Surveys

Generative Interviews

Define & Ideate 

"What do Givers need?"

Mind Mapping

Sprint Questions

Crazy 8's 


"How to connect ideas?"

Create Prototypes
Plan Info Architecture 

"What needs more work?"

RITE Testing x 3 rounds
Iterations on each

1. Who gives and why?

Secondary Research Findings

Giving to be Social

Seeing other people give can increase your own giving.

Giving Motivations

People's motivations fall on a spectrum from self serving to altruistic.

Giving to Individuals

People are more likely to give to individuals rather than after reading stats or figures.

Giving to Connect

Kind acts of generosity can promote connection.

Giving as a Norm

People adjust their behavior to fit the social norms they associate with their identity.

Giving is Popular

There is a high rate of giving in America. Age and religion can effect giving but gender, income and race less so.

We organized our findings

by thinking of the 

BJ Fogg Model of Behavior

Behavior = motivation + ability + prompts

Consider Motivation, Prompts and Ability

Motivations- Spectrum of motivators 

Prompts- Priming and signaling 

Ability- Financial, social, cultural

Market Trends

Competitive Analysis 

Created in Figma by Design Team

27 competitors compared


  • Donation specific apps/sites

  • Popular apps/sites that allow donation in addition to other goals

  • Non-digital giving formats

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Feature Overview from Competitive Analysis 


Must Haves & Should Haves

  • Gift Recommendations

  • Background Information for research purposes

  • Trust-building aspects

  • Easy on-boarding


Secondary Research Support

  • People want options, but over 5 options and it feels overwhelming- this can be obstacle to giving.

  • Researching cause is an important trust-builder in donation process.


Opportunities to Consider 

  • Gamify giving

  • Make giving easier

  • Allow auto-giving path

  • Allow incentives

  • Create donor ranking or community aspects in app

Mixing Methods with Surveys


Created in Qualtrics

~220 participants 

We asked our participants questions about...

What motivates them to give

What is their most common form of giving

How do they learn about giving opportunities

What types of app features might be interesting

We screened out

People outside of the US

People without smart phones

People who did not give in the past year

Some Insights 

Motivators on the spectrum were confirmed. Additionally we found 'demotivators' like social anxiety, can keep people from giving when they want to.

People look to friends to get information on trustworthy giving opportunities, because it saves them research time and reduces anxiety.

People are interested in varying levels of anonymity but want to control how public the donation will be.

*While our competitive analysis findings pointed to social media type features as popular, or potentially a 'ranking' of donors being an opportunity, after validating our feature ideas with survey participants, we found that these features were not popular within a 'giving' framework or app. 

Our survey findings helped us write our Moderation Script for generative interviews! 

Understanding the 'Why' with Interviews

Generative Interviews

Method:12 interviews, 1 hour each with Zoom and

(Worked as moderator for four interviews, notetaker for four interviews)


Interview Structure

1. Discussion

Have participant define their understanding of 'giving'

Move into what forms of giving they participate in

Ask about their experiences, habits, like & dislikes

2. Journey Activity

Ask participant to write out steps of recent giving experience

Have them label the emotions they felt at each step

3. Feature Ranking Activity

Rank list of features (1 for least important, 5 for most important)

Ask "What do you think this feature is about?" 

Ask "Why is it important?" if high, or "Why is it less important" if low

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Analyzing Interview Data 

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Part of the affinity diagram related to the giving journey


The researchers did an affinity diagraming exercise in with interview data to find themes.

We considered Fogg behavior model while analyzing 

What are prompts, signals, motivators and obstacles while giving?

Some Motivators

Seeing impact right away

Seeing friends give

Some prompts


Community need

Some Obstacles

Financial concerns


Ease of giving

2. What do Givers need?

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Review Research

Go through all the research data and take notes 


Crazy 8's

8 bad ideas, and 8 better ideas in 16 minutes flat


Sprint Questions

Reference original HMW's and create sprint goal


Chose scenarios to ideate on

Story Mapping

Identify customer, and flow. Use HMW's to narrow focus.

#5. Casual Campaigns .png


Create 3 unique concepts to address goals

Design Thinking Steps

Long Term Goal for App Concepts

People will be able to give spontaneously with their phones and will be inspired to give more often and will be able to give with friends, building community.

Playdate feature allows users to schedule meetups with other dog owners


Scenario for Concept #1

"A friend sends you $30 on the app to get dinner, but you decide to pass the money to someone else on the app..."

#5. Casual Campaigns .png

Concept #1: Ideating on How to Give with Friends

Research- Interviews, surveys and secondary research implies people want to give more.

*Create a giving account. This also helps with budgeting which was a concern for some when it came to spontaneous giving. A giving account is a pre-determined amount that can be given on the app each month.

Research- People who need help might not want to feel like they are receiving charity.

*Everyone on this app can give or receive. Giving a friend money to buy coffee as a special treat is as easy as giving to another friend's favorite charity.

Research- People feel overwhelmed with too many giving choices and often look to friends to find trust worthy giving opportunities

*Create an "Inner Circle" with a small group of friends. This helps filter options that you see, and aids in feeling connected by working together to meet giving goals

Research- People like to know who they are helping and who else has given to a cause

*Create opportunity to give to individuals or community organizations.

Scenario for Concept #2

"At your favorite coffee shop you overhear another regular customer say they have been struggling lately. You'd like to buy their coffee anonymously..." 

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Concept #2: Ideating on Giving at a Business

Research- Priming a person to give by showing them that others are giving in the area

*Show a map that indicates where others have given using the app in the local area

Research- People want to know that the money they give will go to what they expect

*Allow app users to give directly through stores in the form of a credit or gift card

Research- Interviews and survey showed that people want the option to give anonymously, but sometimes want recognition for gift

*Allow user to send money anonymously OR to sign their gift with a note

Goal- To help create a habit or routine of giving by making the app delightful to use

* Create an AR visual component to the app. When a person gives with the app (or is outside of an establishment where someone else gave) they can open the app and look through the AR view finder to discover unique images and messages. These are AR landmarks that make using the app more fun and delightful.

Voting on Concepts

The giving
map idea, was
upvoted by
The "Inner 
Circle" of 
friends to give with was upvoted

3. How to connect the ideas?

After voting on features we broke into three teams to design different parts of the app. As a Team Lead for the "Inner Circle" feature, I worked with designers to story map the feature progression and to create screens for the prototype. At the same time, myself and the other researchers started our RITE testing protocol.

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Prototype Screens

Rapid Iterative Testing Evaluation

Research Questions for this Phase

●  Do people understand the app concept?

●  What features are most important to potential users and why?

●  What features are least important to potential users and why?

●  How does/doesn’t the app fit into the lives of potential users?

●  How can the key flows and interactions be improved?

Task 1. Onboarding Quiz

During Onboarding Quiz does participant feel comfortable answering these questions? What do they expect will happen with their answers? 
Likert Scale: How difficult or easy was this task?

Task 2. Exploring the Main Tabs

What does the participant expect to happen for each navigational button?

Task 3. Giving to a Friend

What does the participant think about giving to a friend through this app? Is this how they expected they would be giving to a friend over the app?

Task 4. Giving through a Business

What does participant think about giving through a business? How do they feel about the giving map? What do they expect to happen when they give?

Task 5. Receiving a Gift

Would you be interested in ability to pass money forward to a cause? Would you be interested in establishing a group of friends that you work with to give in the community? What do you think the inner circle would be? What would you want it to be?

Closing: Overall Prototype Feedback

How would you change the prototype you used today? Do you wish that the app might include a kind of giving that is not presented? If anything, what did you like about the prototype you interacted today? If anything, what did you not like about the prototype?


Next Steps

Metrics for Success- what to look at after launch...




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