A transparent and eco-friendly approach to donation




  • Tyler La

  • Dolcie Dass

  • Yuting Han


  • Literature Review

  • User Interview

  • Research Synthesis

  • Ideation

  • Usability Testing


4-day sprint
(MHCI+D Immersion Studio)


Sketch, Paper, Pen



In 4 days, our team were challenged to explore the field of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) , specifically how to use technology to help people engage in acts of civic engagement.

The donation process could be stressful at times due to the lack of awareness (figuring out donatable items & their quantities) and transparency (knowing where the items go, NGOs’ missions and values). This missing information might lead individuals to donate items that are not in need, from which unintentionally create more waste in the process of redistributing resources.


EZdrop is a technologically advanced donation drop box for the neighborhood. It helps NGOs connect with current and potential donors in a more efficient, eco-friendly, and transparent way. Main features include:

  • Details of specific items in need via an interactive screen

  • Ability to assess NGOs’ values and mission

  • Streamlined process of getting tax receipts



Our first step in the process was to conduct literature review to familiarize ourselves with the field of CSCW and its current strengths and challenges. We also wanted to explore the successful and unsuccessful cases where technology was implemented to enhance civic engagement. Inspired by the Double Diamond process in design thinking practice, our team diverged to do our own research and shifted through as many literature as possible. We then converged the next day to synthesize our findings.

We found 4 main insights that helped direct our research:


#2 - People want to know the impacts of their donations

Seeing how their donation helps others encourages them to donate over and over again. Donation can become a good habit vs a one time act. (2) (3)

#1 - Incentive matters

Even though donation is a volunteering act, people still expect to receive some form of reward or validation. (1)

#4 - Social influence has a role in donating behaviors
An individual’s likelihood to donate also conforms to the donating behaviors of their peers. (5)(6)

#3 - NGOs lack IT capabilities to implement CSCW

NGOs tend to lack of funding and human capital to invest into researching and building tools that could enhance the CSCW. (4)



Interviewing a store manager at Goodwill

Interviewing a store manager at Goodwill

To make sure that we understood the problem properly and to bridge the gap between literature reviews and real-world challenges, I helped my team craft a list of interview questions for primary research. We then headed out to the field and interviewed the store manager at Goodwill, hearing more about his perspectives as both an NGO worker and a donor.

The conversation yielded similar insights as our literature reviews, allowing us to feel more confident in setting our problem statement:


How might we make the donation process enjoyable for non-profits and their participants?


Following the creation of the problem statement, our team took a step back to discuss among ourselves the project scope, time constraint as well as what was the success criteria. For this particular challenge, we defined a successful design was the one that would achieve 4 criteria:

Success Metrics
  • Help connect NGOs and donors in a transparent way

  • Create a platform that is suitable for NGO’s technical capabilities

  • Reduce waste in the donation process

  • Leverage social influence to make donating become a habit


Working together, we generated 30 ideas that would help improve the donating process. We narrowed down to 4 main ideas using the criteria specified above and were able to narrow down one more time to our best concept: EZDrop.

Yuting and I were in charge of creating the physical paper prototype for EZdrop in order to test with users early on.

EZdrop concept


We then worked together to build a paper prototype for the EZDrop concept and refined the ideas along with the structures overtime through multiple rounds of user testing and feedback. Yuting and I were in charge of building the physical prototype.


#1 - Users expected to receive system feedback in every step of the process.

#2 - Users skipped the steps and tried to pull the handle right away without interacting with the system. We learned that by having a physical handle, it signifies that users can pull at any given time.

#3 - The prototype didn’t accommodate enough convenience for users who wanted to donate multiple items at one

After a few usability tests, we made tweaks and changes to our design accordingly. Dolcie then took over the revised version of the prototype and transfer the designs to a higher fidelity.


Allow users to see exactly which items are donatable


Learn about NGO’s mission, value, and how the donation would make an impact


Streamline the process of getting tax receipts


  • For this project, we integrated 3/4 success criteria into our design: Feasible, Eco-friendly, and Transparent. We intentionally took out the Social criteria because we wanted to make the donating task simple and quick. We wanted users to focus on the donating task and learn more about the organization that they are donating to rather than using the interface to explore social feeds. A future consideration is to create a mobile app, a companion app that offer users the ability to interact with others.

  • Continue to collect date through user interviews to create specific personas and detailed task analysis to better understand the problem & craft solutions accordingly

  • Remove handle from the design & allow the box to automatically open when needed to assess whether that would eliminate functional confusion