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NSPCC London Marathon fundraising app



Office: London


  • Experience Strategy
  • Idea Management
  • Information and Product Design
  • Measurement & Optimization
  • Research and Analytics
  • Technology & Engineering
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To foster empowered fundraising , we created an app for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in the lead up to the Virgin Money London Marathon 2016.

The NSPCC struggles to attract a large volume of volunteers to actively fundraise for their organization. Chosen to be the official charity partner for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2016, the NSPCC saw an opportunity to change that. They wanted to leverage the event to drive awareness of their charity and support the fundraising efforts by NSPCC fundraisers/marathon runners.

We identified a problem: fundraising — even in a digital world — is tough. However passionate people may be about certain causes, they’re not professionals. Most find it difficult to get started and maintain momentum in their efforts.

The 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon report states that 20% of runners drop out in the time between registering and race day. Many factors contribute to this, but fundraising targets certainly account for many of the drop-outs. Targets typically range between £1.5k – £2.5k (around $2,000 – $3,500), which can be a barrier to entry for all participants.

50% of runners are first-timers, according to the 2015 VMLM report, which suggests newcomers could be lacking ideas for fundraising.The other 50% — frequent runners — face comparable challenges, having exhausted the fundraising potential of their social circles.

I’ve done six marathons so I have exhausted social media as a fundraising strategy.

We saw a key opportunity for a fundraising app because research shows the use of an app increases average donations by up to 19% (2015 VMLM report).

Many apps have sprung up to help address the problem, but they don’t specifically meet the end users’ needs: for example, some apps track donations but fail to offer guidance for raising these funds. Platform apps like Virgin Money Giving and Just Giving are simple, flexible, and (by necessity) generic. Niche apps like Charity Miles, Movember, and The Color Run, are tailored for a single charity/event’s purpose.

To improve the fundraising process for the NSPCC, we needed an app built around functionality their fundraisers actually need — and would use. Without core fundraising features, it would be just another app.

We began by identifying the specific needs of marathon runners fundraising for the NSPCC. Through interviews, we uncovered the different pain points in the traditional fundraising process — both online and offline, for novice and veteran runners.

We recognized a spectrum of fundraising experience among runners but created two general personas to focus our work. The novice was new to fundraising and excited to meet their goal, but not sure where to begin. The veteran had prior experience raising money for causes before, but lacked fresh tactics.

Though each persona faced the same fundraising goals, their obstacles and potential pitfalls were different. The novice needed tips for starting out, specific tactics for social and online fundraising, progress notifications to motivate them and keep them on-track, and prompts for the next fundraiser. The veteran, on the other hand, needed to learn more advanced fundraising approaches, specific guides for offline fundraising (e.g. events), and ideas from other veteran fundraisers.


We then distilled our findings into the app, which helps experienced fundraisers do what they do best, helping them become loyal advocates, and supports new fundraisers, giving them a positive experience and motivation to do it again and again until they become veterans. According to NSPCC research, almost 90% of fundraisers indicated that they would be willing to support the NSPCC in another event within the next 12-18 months.

The app provides seamless pathways to online fundraising methods, actionable ideas for offline fundraising, notifications to track progress and motivate runners, and hints, tips, and anecdotes from other fundraisers. And the results suggest that this combination works. Metrics show regular visitors to all sections, with the marathon checklist, fundraising tips, and community among the top performers.

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