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Engaging donors online for health care outreach

Project Partner

St John of God Foundation connects St John of God Health Care, one of the largest private healthcare providers in Australia, with its supporters and the community. They are committed to providing the community with revolutionary medical research, contemporary infrastructure, and the delivery of critical social services in underprivileged areas. The Foundation provides services across areas such as early intervention for vulnerable youth and mental healthcare.


Issues in focus

Access to Healthcare, Philanthropy, Donor Engagement

Their challenge

The provision of good healthcare is literally life-changing, and St John of God Foundation’s programs have proven to have an immediate impact on the accessibility and quality of these services in low-socioeconomic areas. But recently, the organisation had important questions about the sustainability of its funding. What happens if the Foundation continued to simply depend on gifts in wills without meaningfully engaging their corporate and private donors? And if they were to pivot, how can they ensure the inflow of recurring donations from the wider St John community?

Our strategy

We worked with the Foundation, alongside business and technology consultancy Diversus, to understand and define a digital strategy around their donor engagement practices online. In the process, we observed the analytics behind their donorship, created delineations between the hospital and foundation brand and delivered a set of story-driven wireframes to reinvent how they broadcasted their impact through their newly-proposed website.

Reviewing the analytics

We started research by reviewing their user experience data from every angle, including correlations between duration of engagement, donor conversion and persona behaviour.

We also held multiple workshops with those personas’ real-life counterparts, immersing ourselves in inquisitive conversations with board members, major donors and outpatients who have given back to the Foundation’s programs. This was important to understanding where the Foundation fit within the hospital’s constellation of responsibilities and priorities.

One thing we noticed right away was how challenging it has been for the team to tell their patient stories in a systematic and logical way. Even though they had accumulated videos and images of patients over time, the existing web build didn’t provide them with the tools to communicate their impact. The team used all sorts of workarounds to demonstrate their impact, from developing makeshift microsites to leveraging low visibility subpages on the main hospital site.

Narrative-based case studies

Our research led to five principles to strengthen donor engagement online, and the client team brainstormed dozens of new website components in response to each principle.

Some “How Might We” principles included increasing connectivity and interactivity for users, showing transparency and accountability, and sharing more of their stories in an interactive format. Ideas ranged from inserting chapters into their stories, using GIFs to preview their media content, and highlighting profound quotes through bright colours.

Visualising donor engagement

We eventually illustrated the ideas that generated the most enthusiasm from the St John team, since they would be the ones to create the content. The wireframe sketches served to both further develop the ideas, and communicate them out to the broader organisation.

At this point, the project accelerated to the digital concepts phase. We designed these visual prototypes and demonstrated them on clickable platform, InVision, before finally coaching the St John team on how they could integrate their new storytelling tools into their existing processes. While there are still steps to take before the standalone Foundation site is launched, the team has positively received these new ideas and have expressed interest in adopting similar practices for their main hospital website.

* Photography in this case study was produced by St John of God Foundation

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