Client Case Study: The American Red Cross

By Grace Eyre on 29 02 2012


Give Camp is an annual weekend-long event where technology professionals, such as developers and designers, donate their time to a local non-profit in need. Mutually Human had several people interested in volunteering for Give Camp, so we decided to approach it together and address the American Red Cross's needs as a team. We were proud of what we were able to accomplish in a two day sprint and are sure it will continue to be a valuable tool for the Red Cross of West Michigan.


The primary objective was to create a database to track the American Red Cross's presence in the media. Part of Deanna's job is to document and report on the outreach efforts and press responses within the various West Michigan chapters of the Red Cross. Media coverage for the Red Cross is essential to awareness and, ultimately, to donations and volunteering. She wanted to be able to organize everything in one place, including links and files for videos and articles. The database will allow her to stay on top of media efforts and compile reports about the effectiveness of their PR campaigns.

Tackling the Project

In preparation for Give Camp we set aside one lunch break per week for the three weeks leading up to the event to ensure we could deliver lasting value when the day came. During these meetings we worked with Deanna Berkowitz, Regional Communications Director, and Chip Kragt, Emergency Services Coordinator, to plan the product we would deliver. We identify the Deanna's pain points in her daily work, and from there, built a story map of essential features.

In the inaugural hours of the Give Camp weekend, our team debriefed, reviewed the story map and then divided the features among ourselves.Chip Kragt was one of the most dedicated non-profit representatives at Give Camp. He stuck with us the whole weekend to provide the Red Cross perspective on the software as it was being developed. As features were completed Chip could hop on and test them against the actual needs of the Red Cross. Together, we worked late into the night and wrapped it up Sunday morning, a few hours ahead of the deadline for final presentations.

The Challenge

The two day deadline forced us to carefully prioritize features in order to ensure we delivered the most value within the compressed development schedule. Design had to be executed and validated in tight cooperation with both developers and the client. We didn't have time for formalized deliverables so we relied on quick sketches in place of wireframes and constant conversation among one another to ensure our highly parallelized team was headed in the same direction. We executed our design directly in HTML & CSS, skipping high-fidelity design tools like Photoshop, allowing us to focus on the design's structure before any additional polish we could fit in.

The Success

Deanna was so happy with her new media tracking application that she is hoping to share this tool with the national office and hopefully implement the database in other regions around the country. As of now, she is the only American Red Cross Communications Director in the nation to have a custom database like this one. Media Tracker makes a monumental difference in the amount of time she has to spend collecting and organizing press coverage, which means she has more time to devote to other core functions of her job.

It was wonderful to meet the wonderful people from the American Red Cross in Grand Rapids and use our skills in software development to address a real need in our community.