The Penn Fund

A Red and Blue Dream Come True

The Situation

The Penn Fund allows donors to support the University of Pennsylvania’s greatest needs and highest priorities through the general fund. Funding can include grants to undergraduates, enhancements to academic programs and campus technology, and fostering community through student clubs and organizations. While its purpose seemed simple—fundraise to positively impact the Penn community—internal teams found it difficult to fully explain the extent of its reach on campus.

Our Approach

It was crucial to develop a website unique to The Penn Fund while also feeling a part of the University of Pennsylvania family. Through in-depth discovery and research, we were able to create a site that is both beautiful and utilitarian. It provides users with vital information like what the Penn Fund does and how it directly helps the Penn student body while delivering a properly Penn-spirited experience.

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Building consensus around a new initiative.

We engaged The Penn Fund team in workshops to redefine the purpose of the site, dissect and restructure content, set new goals, and simplify messaging. From surveying the old site to defining user groups and audience segments to taking stock of the existing Penn web ecosystem—we left no stone unturned. We also identified key characteristics of the organization which helped to frame the design system.

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Using life-changing memories as motivation to give.

Surfacing the unforgettable memories that are so indelibly part of the Penn experience revealed itself as a primary goal. We heard repeatedly that this was at the heart of undergraduate alumni giving. Inspired by architectural patterns found on Penn’s campus and special moments found in their photo library, we created layered groups of elements to recreate a warm, scrapbook-like experience. As a result, the site appeals to a donor’s love and loyalty for Penn, sparks a little nostalgia, and reinforces the potential power of giving.

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Articulating a purpose.

So...“What is the Penn Fund?” According to staff, it’s the question that is asked and answered the most. We made sure this simple yet critical Q & A was accessible at every step of a user’s journey through the website. A persistent sidebar makes it highly visible yet unobtrusive. And with a simple click, a drawer with focused messaging slides over the current page.

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Proving the impact of support.

The new structure of the website fostered a new approach to donor support. This approach appeals to both the head—through statistics and progress bars—and to the heart—through student and donor stories. A dynamic chart displays current dollars raised versus the total goal, in real-time.

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