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BarnRaise SF

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, participating in your neighbor’s barn raising was a common community event. Constructing a barn frame was a big undertaking that couldn’t be completed without the help of the whole community.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and add design thinking, and you have the modern-day barn raising. It has the same element of “It takes a village…” but instead applied to non-profit organizations in the community.

The Event

Last weekend DesignMap participated in the first ever BarnRaise SF event, hosted by Adaptive Path. Six San Francisco design studios were each matched with a local non-profit organization to work on a challenge proposed by the non-profit around the theme of transition. Joining each team were people from the community with various backgrounds, but with a shared interest in tackling a user-centered design problem for social good.

DesignMap had the honor and pleasure of being matched with our neighbor in the Mission, La Cocina, which helps people with limited access to resources start and grow food businesses. We also had a team of six amazing thinkers and makers participate in the weekend workshop, and co-produce a set of beautiful and functional designs for La Cocina (more on that below).

Our team for the weekend.

The Challenge

We were first introduced to La Cocina several weeks before the event. During our initial conversations, we were blown away by the stories of the entrepreneurs who have made their way through the La Cocina program and into real, brick-and-mortar restaurants in the Bay Area. Many of the entrepreneurs are immigrant women who started by selling food prepared from their home kitchens, but needed the commercial kitchen space, business guidance, and access to market opportunities that La Cocina provides in order to make it.

We learned that La Cocina’s current big challenge is to launch a membership program for individual donors. While they have a solid set of funding streams, La Cocina explained that they want to increase individual donations to diversify their funding sources. So, our design challenge was formed:

How might we help La Cocina transition existing donors and attract new donors to develop sustaining members in a donor membership program?

Some Research

In order to hit the ground running during the workshop weekend, we conducted some preliminary research to better understand the three key audiences for the membership program and to see how the membership program levels that La Cocina had created resonated with these audiences. Our primary audience was existing donors (“Current Donors”), next, people familiar with La Cocina but who have never donated (“Awares”), and finally, people who have never heard of La Cocina (“Unawares”).

Interviews with these three audiences revealed what unique elements compel people to donate to La Cocina in particular, the factors that influence people to donate in general, and the ways in which people think about and plan for making donations. Armed with this information, the team was able focus during the workshop on the best messaging strategy for the membership program.

We also gathered the visual design assets that La Cocina currently has in order to set a style guide for our work.

Interviews with current donors and other people in the community.

The Workshop

La Cocina had a few key communication pieces in mind that they wanted for the membership program. However, we took the opportunity of having so many minds together to step back and think more broadly about the whole membership program experience. During the first part of the workshop, we created a map of the journey into and through the membership program from the perspective of each of the three audiences.

Journey mapping for the “Aware” audience.

From these maps we identified a few key moments in the journey on which to focus. We brainstormed around these moments using a technique called brainwriting.

One of our “How might we…” statements for a key moment in the journey, with all of the brainstormed ideas around it. So many good ideas!

Finally, we landed on three concepts that support people at various points in the journey:

  1. Print brochure about the membership program to help people make the connection between delicious food and the organization that helped bring these restaurants into the world
  2. Membership program sign-up page that allows people to easily choose and sign up for a membership level
  3. A member welcome packet—including a member card and print map of La Cocina graduate restaurants—to delight new members and help them spread the word to others

The rest of the workshop was an incredible feat of collaboration, with each person working on a piece of the larger puzzle while communicating continuously to make sure everything from content to visuals were aligned across all of the communication pieces.

Our Sunday morning design review, going into the home stretch.

The Outcome

In the span of 30 hours, a team of people—most of whom had never met before the weekend—produced a set of print and digital pieces to hand off to La Cocina. It was a whirlwind, but thrilling to create something so quickly for a very appreciative client.

Membership donation webpage design.
Membership welcome packet materials on display at Sunday’s public presentation.

We’re glad we met

As Adaptive Path President Brandon Schauer described at the close of the weekend: “Design thinking and non-profits are like a couple who found each other later in life. They’re after the same things, it just took them a while to find each other.” La Cocina, we’re so glad we met you!

Congratulations to all of the teams who participated in the event, and we look forward to the next Barnraise SF.

Nourish Your Community. Become a Founding Member!

Sign up for La Cocina’s newsletter, and look out for the launch of their membership program. Also, keep an eye out for the brochures and maps at La Cocina graduate and partner restaurants throughout the Bay Area.

#servicedesign #designthinking #uxdesign #barnraiseSF


Audrey Crane

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