The GRIP experience

When I was in Chile, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Twice. It’s only after spending many years in therapy that she discovered medical marijuana and finally started feeling better.

So when I came to Montreal, I was already kinda familiar with the subject matter when my husband introduced me to a friend of his who worked for Grip Montreal, an organization whose mission is to prevent and reduce the risks associated with the consumption of drugs.

Outreach workers visit music festivals and schools to educate people, offer psychosocial support in case of an overdose, while focusing on harm reduction. They are seen at big Montreal events, such as Osheaga or Rockfest.

If you choose to use, choose to know.

The postcards

As a rather new non-profit group organization, they are still looking for sustainable ways to get funding. For the moment a portion of that funding come from the sale of postcards containing information on what to do in case of an overdose.

Until last year, the whole process was rather tenuous. A lot of effort and energy was going into the shipping and handling of those cards, instead of putting the energy into the prevention.

The following graphic describes the numerous steps necessary for the reception of a postcard by the client. Note that the payment was only received by the organization if the client remembered to send a cheque or to write a credit card number on the form he returned.

The way the Grip Montreal store works until 2017

Because of the way they were operating, a lot of forms were not returned and a lot of postcards ending up being sent “for free”.

Let’s -try to- fix this!

We met with the team to try to understand their needs and identify the source of the problem.

We soon realized that their website was still using an old Wordpress theme (for almost 10 years). They also didn’t even have access to their Wordpress installation. Like a lot of other non-profit organizations, they didn’t have anyone in charge of the technological aspects of it and they were kinda stuck with what they had, without really understanding how it worked or how to make it better.

After making numerous calls to determine who could possibly have access to the website, I proposed to do a Golden Circle, in order to really understand the value they gave to the users after all this time as an organization.

We also looked into how we could improve the issues they were experimenting with a micro Customer Journey map to improve the buying process, not just for the clients, but also for the organization.

What we found

Over all, the biggest problems we found were:

  1. Visual Identity was not trustable.
  2. Visual web design; was really not working (in a technical and aesthetic point of view).
  3. Selling/buying time (for users and for the organization).
  4. The products offered were not attractive.
  5. There was no sense of community on the website, more of a one-way communication.
  6. When present in music festivals, there was no system to make people relate to the organization, not even a paper to write their email.

The values:

  1. They are the only one giving this information, at least, in Quebec.
  2. They have/give expert scientific information/formation.
  3. The interventions they do in massive live shows.
  4. Teaching at schools.

Agile hypothesis

We have read/heard so much about it… but, how do we really implement it in a non-profit organization? It was not easy, but we made sure to identify what the most important element on the website was and determined how we could redo everything with minimal waste and with a lot of value for the users.

Here’s how we did it:

  1. As I said, we decided to rebuild the website on Wordpress so that the team could update the content easily (we made sure that they had the log in information this time around). We also opted for that platform because of the mobile aspect.
  2. We used bootstrap to easily and rapidly prototype what we wanted to do.
  3. Find a Drop shipping system, like Printify, for the Info postcards and maybe create other kinds of products. Ex: Info t-shirts, info-posters, info-merchandising.
  4. And, finally, we put in place systems to keep track of visits and measure the performance.

3 steps; a lot of little releases.

This was the plan:

Step 1

What we did:

  1. The organization hired a graphic designer (internship) to work with us on a new logotype with an entire new visual identity.

2. We rebuilt the website in a very flexible structure with Bootstrap (with a basic-default design for the moment).

3. The content was rewritten for the web (shortened while thinking of web-readers), and it now focuses on the mission of the organization, the services offered and a page to receive donations.


We are currently working on step 2, figuring out the best option for the organization, in terms of drop shipping service. We are exploring different options, like having an online store with payment, which could solve a lot of the efficiency issues experienced.

This project has been very challenging for me, because it has been the first 100% in English, and working with the content in French.

Bienvenue au Québec, they say. 😂