Transforming an Industry One Partnership at a Time

Taking Nonprofit-share from an idea to a reality was an amazing journey that provided myriad opportunities to grow in my career. Over the three years of the project I learned valuable lessons in leadership and the importance of bridging the gap between design goals and business goals.

The true reward of this project has been experiencing the power that passion, collaboration and patience has in keeping a core team split between Atlanta and New York City focused and moving forward.

Credit: Script: Danielle DePiper, Melissa Kushner, Jeremy Kaplan, Susmita De, Frank Rauss; Design: Elizabeth Kelley, Frank Rauss; Video Production and Creative Direction: Frank Rauss

The Nonprofit-share Narrative

Today’s challenges exceed the capacity of any individual nonprofit organization. In a world with increasingly complex problems, nonprofits cannot meet these challenges alone; they must collaborate.

With no easy way for nonprofits to identify and connect with each other, the sector suffers from duplicated efforts, wasted resources and countless missed opportunities. This hinders nonprofits from fully meeting the needs of their beneficiaries and maximizing their impact on the ground.

Nonprofit-share makes it easy to build meaningful connections between people working in the social sector, making collaboration efficient and probable. It empowers members to find organizations, share knowledge, leverage resources and collaborate to increase their collective impact.

I met Melissa Kushner, founder of Nonprofit-share, when she spoke at Unboundary for TEDx Atlanta.

An Opportunity to Change an Industry

I have a belief that solutions to some of our toughest challenges don’t require reinventing the wheel, they simply require tools that allow individual solutions to connect and create a more holistic solution and a greater impact.

When Nonprofit-share founder, Melissa Kushner, spoke at Unboundary for TEDx Atlanta I was inspired by her story of how she launched her organization Goods for Good. What excited me most was how that experience turned into an epiphany to create a tool — Nonprofit-share — that had the potential to not only increase the impact of nonprofits but transform their industry in the process.

As I listened to Melissa walk us through the concept of Nonprofit-share it became clear that the strength of the idea was in the recognition that powerful solutions and results are created when ideas and people can easily connect and partner with each other.

When Melissa ended her presentation with an ask to help create this new approach to I saw Nonprofit-share as an opportunity to collaborate with a passionate person, help make her dream a reality and get to use my design skills in a meaningful way.

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Strategic framework for the first workshop.

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The narrative framework allowed the team see Nonprofit-share at meta, macro and micro level of detail. It helped personify the organization and provided the characteristics and attributes used to create the brand identity.

The start of a three-year journey

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Project timeline up to starting development. The process was a long and rewarding journey.

When the process began, Nonprofit-share was only an idea. It needed a fully formed story and identity if we were to get funding to launch it. Two weekend workshops in New York provided the immersion to understand what the exact problem was that Nonprofit-share was addressing, the unique value prop and sketch out an initial experience arc for users and discuss functionality for the initial launch of the site.

These workshops created the shared understanding for the full team and provided the foundation for the next phases of work to begin. While initial wireframes and experience were being sketched out and issues like privacy, user definition and core functionality were being worked through, the narrative and identity work that manifested itself in the business proposal used to obtain funding.

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Selection of spreads from the Business Proposal was intended to take potential investors through the idea from a conceptual level down to the details of the budget. Credit: Copy: Melissa Kushner, Jeremy Kaplan, Natalie Bonifede, Frank Rauss, Jenn Graham; Design: Mike Kelly; Creative Direction: Frank Rauss

Creating The Visual Language

We wanted the identity to reflect the passion and excitement of the story the way Melissa tells it. I have yet to meet someone who has seen Mel talk that isn’t truly inspired and excited about her ideas and approach to her work and the nonprofit industry.

The logo mark focused on the power of partnerships and collaborations to increase the impact of organizations on the ground. The two arrows, compliments to each other, come together to make something greater than their parts; the “N” created in the negative space was a brilliant execution, designed by Mike Kelly, to bring the story to life through the mark.

The secondary elements of the system were built off of the rounded corner shape of the logo mark. The colors and layout bring the narrative to life visually through showing similar colored squares coming together in small and large groups while never becoming solid. This was an important piece of the story to communicate to ensure organizations understood they can retain their individuality even as they partner with others.

This concept was then carried through other elements of the system as seen in the icons and the business cards. The icons — search, connect, join forces — were created specifically for the web site and other collateral to help people quickly grasp the idea and core benefit of Nonprofit-share.

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Nonprofit-share logo visualized the two main themes of the organization, partnering and the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

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Conceptual design for the visual narrative of Nonprofit-share highlights the ability to partner while maintaining your individual identity and initiative.

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Nonprofit-share iconography and business cards. Credit: Design: Mike Kelly, Elizabeth Kelley, Jenny Savage, Frank Rauss; Creative Direction: Frank Rauss

The Next Chapter Begins

The last piece to manifest was the site itself. After multiple iterations and a continual editing process we launched the MVP to a small beta team in February, 2013.

It’s been an exciting three-plus-year journey taking Melissa’s passion and conviction and creating a tool that will allow others to easily connect with each other and create a greater impact in what they do.

While some people think three years is a long time to work on a pro-bono project on the side, it’s been an amazing experience that has allowed me to follow my passion, develop new ones and refine my own understanding of what I want to do with my career.

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Digital sketches for the layouts and structure of the site. These samples are for the home page, member dashboard, search results and member profile pages.

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The home page and dashboard page of Nonprofit-share.

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The search results page and organization profil page of Nonprofit-share. Credit: Design: Mike Kelly, Frank Rauss; Creative Direction: Frank Rauss

A Few Good Words

Frank is an incredibly hard working and talented professional. He worked with me from concept through design, iteration and development. His attention to detail and vision for the larger project is a perfect combination. He helped my organization create a brand identity that is beautiful and true to who we are with a view on who we could become. Frank is up to date on all of the design and technology trends and is also rooted in good classic design principals. He is easy to work with and passionate about his craft. I would highly recommend working with him.

Process

To facilitate discussions with developers, obtain quotes and secure funding we developed a set of wireframes to visualize the service Nonprofit-share would be able to provide its users.

The following five images are a sample of the annotated wireframe used during those discussions.

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Annotated wireframe of the home for a program focused experience.

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Annotated wireframe for the create new program page for a program focused experience.

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Annotated wireframe for the program details page for a program focused experience.

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Annotated wireframe showing the details and interactions for the left side bar.

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Annotated wireframe showing the details and interactions for the right side on the program details page.

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The user flow for a scaled back, MVP experience.