Expanding Impact for Social Good

Introducing individual-to-organization transfers in a peer-to-peer payment app

Naaja King
6 min readAug 21, 2015


Project Overview

As part of the User Experience Design Immersive, the objective of this group project was to integrate a new feature into the established structure of an existing product. The group consisted of 3 User Experience Designers.

Venmo’s mission is to connect the world and empower people through payments. Empowerment happens when we recognize that money is a tool we can use to help others: sending money to a family member down on his luck, helping fund a friend’s new art project, or donating to a charity.

Source The Official Venmo Blog

Opportunity: Strengthen the Venmo brand by offering options for users to donate money through the app to causes they care about.

Challenge: Integrating individual-to-organization transfers into an existing peer-to-peer payment app in a way that meets the needs of existing Venmo users.

Solution: Create profile pages for nonprofits and separate pages for their campaigns, seamlessly integrate the new feature into the existing functionality, and encourage easy giving through the Venmo social feed.

My Responsibilities: Researching online fundraising services , conducting user interviews, collaborating to prioritize features, sketching User Interface options, drafting an App Map, creating low-fidelity wireframes, refining the wireframes and putting them into an interactive prototype.


We followed the “Double Diamond” project cycle. Starting with our original problem statement, we conducted research to explore the opportunities within the market place that Venmo operates in. Then we used the insights that we gathered to define who the current Venmo user is and the potential users that might find the option to donate through Venmo appealing. We tried out multiple options for how these new features might be incorporated into the existing app. Then we narrowed done those options to find the most optimum solution.


Competitive Research & Analysis

Venmo holds a unique position, since it has no direct competition. There are other peer-to-peer payment apps, and other payment options. However, none of them incorporate the social component that makes Venmo special.

There are Donation apps that many users currently use to send funds to nonprofits and crowd rising campaigns. However, their payment process is not as fast and easy as the payment process that Venmo is famous for.

There are also Donation Service Site that facilitates fundraising for nonprofits and crowdsourcing projects. Although the service sites generally provide a content management system that allows fundraisers to add a wide variety of content, fundraisers must promote their fundraising page through other channels. They can share their fundraising pages through social media, through their existing donor base, through advertising or other marketing efforts. The service sites allow for searching, but a user must actively initiate the donation process.

User Research

We created an initial screener survey. We sifted through the responses to find those who fit the description of our target users. We were specifically looking to find people who fit into 3 user groups:

  • Venmo users
  • Online donors
  • Venmo users who donate online

We then we reached out to those respondents to gain further insights into their goals, behaviors, pleasure points and pain points.

We then followed up with 17 of our target users:

  • 5 = Email surveys
  • 2 = Phone interviews
  • 10 = In-person interviews



We laid out the findings from our User Research into an Affinity Map…

We plotted the feedback into 3 categories:
• Motivation
• Importance
• Context

Two repeating themes emerged:
• Relationships
• Trust


We crafted personas based on our research to represent users who had similar behaviors and goals. Based on the results that we gathered, we saw three distinct types of users emerge:

Feature Prioritization

We determined which features to focus on based on how well they aligned with the goals of our target users and how viable they might be to implement into the existing Venmo structure.

Given the social nature of Venmo, the best way to promote the charities would be to show users the donations that other users made through their news feed. We determined the most seamless way to allow users to search for charities would be to integrate them into the existing search functionality.

Journey Map

We crafted a journey map to plot the context that the various users typically interact with the app. Based on out interviews, user who currently used Venmo did not have many pain points with the existing app. We focused on when each type of user might interacted with the app for social reasons or entertainment purposes in addition to performing their actual transactions.


Possible Task Flow

We plotted out an App Map to get an overview of how users can transfer funds to an organization.

This is the final App Map with the task flow revisions incorporated.


We conducted design studios to sketch out multiple options for how to incorporate the donations option into the Venmo payment process.

Afterwards we made the most successful ideas into wireframes.


We took the solutions that appealed to us from our sketches and used them as a starting point for our wire frames.

User Testing & Iterating

We conducted usability tests on 8 users with low fidelity paper wireframes, and on 9 users with a high fidelity interactive prototype.

The purpose of the tests were to explore:

  • How findable and usable our donation feature is to users
  • How this feature integrates into the existing user flow

We asked users to perform the following tasks:

  • Discover specific causes within the news feed
  • Search for a nonprofit
  • View information about that organization
  • Make a donation

We iterated our solution based on the feedback that we received on our low fidelity paper wireframes.

The refined solutions were then tested in our medium fidelity interactive prototype.

Next Steps

  • Additional user research:

-- What motivates users to donate spontaneously?

-- How are users influenced by their friends’ posts?

-- What other information do users consider before selecting a cause?

  • Include Charity Navigator ratings
  • Option to donate within Transfer to Bank process