United Way Worldwide (UWW) is committed to finding high-impact, innovative ways to fulfill its mission, as evidenced by its over 125-year history and successful track record of working by, with, and through communities to advance the common good. UWW is working to further adapt its donor engagement strategies and tools, especially as it seeks to build new and enduring relationships with a donor base that spans generations, demographics, and degrees of digital literacy.
UWW’s Innovation Lab hired Frontier Design Group and its partner, Groove Leadership Lab, to teach design thinking to a core group of internal change-makers to help UWW better understand the emotional experience of giving and to leverage that insight to inform innovative ways to build a broader, deeper, and more active donor community. The goals of the project were to:
- Maximize experiential learning through the design thinking methodology;
- Build trust and excitement among a cross-functional group of change-makers at UWW; and
- Surface new insights about why, when, and how donors give (or chose not to) today in order to suggest opportunities to modify or strengthen how they might give tomorrow.
A design-based approach helped uncover the relevant human needs of UWW’s donors and why they give their time and money, which complemented UWW’s ongoing and data-rich marketing and market segmentation efforts. The engagement yielded a deeper understanding of active, potential, and fragile donors’ experiences with giving and helped unlock new possibilities through prototypes of new product development, donor engagement services, and strategic marketing campaigns.