Project story


Videos of individuals and validators help tell the stories.

A few home page experiments.

Most nonprofits concentrate on issues such as fighting cancer, homelessness, or spouse abuse. Benevolent concentrates on individuals—helping them overcome hurdles on their paths to stability.

Through Benevolent, people can give directly to others to meet needs that have been validated by a social service agency, church, or other local nonprofit.

Early concept development

When we first met with Benevolent founder Megan Kashner she had some basic concepts of what she wanted to do. We had regular brainstorming meetings with her for several months to discuss audiences, crowd funding options, connecting with nonprofit validators, and what forms these could take on the web.

Design, coding, and release

Next, we created a design, including a logo and home page prototypes (shown at right). Static prototypes were converted to HTML and CSS and integrated into our content management system.

A unique challenge was integrating with Braintree's payment processing service, because donations had to be held until a need was met.

The first minimally viable product (MVP) was released in just six weeks, included displaying needs with accompanying video stories, collecting donations, and communicating with donors and beneficiaries via automated emails when funding goals were met.

Moving ahead

On September 20, 2012, Megan spoke at the White House on “Innovation in philanthropy.” She also announced their expansion on the east and west coasts. You can read the press release (PDF).

As Benevolent expands nationally, a significantly larger number of beneficiaries and validators (and associated nonprofits) will need to be supported.

New features being discussed include making it very easy to post a need and to donate—including on mobile devices.

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