top of page

Design for Impact

Volunteer success and business scalability through improved project structure


The lack of Design for Impact's (DFI) project structure is distracting volunteers from focusing on the client's problem. As a result, the volunteers spend valuable time during the project trying to figure out the process instead of effectively addressing the client's problem. 

Design for Impact (DFI) is a volunteer organization that helps nonprofits increase their impact by utilizing volunteer UX design and industry professionals.  DFI’s mission also includes the impact on volunteers through opportunities to gain real experience in UX design.  With experience in UX design the volunteers can get a career or expand their career in UX and also use what they learned to provide impact in their community.  The DFI community was created to magnify impact beyond what the Founder could achieve alone.


Design a project structure that balances the needs of clients and volunteers in a two-sided market so that it provides value to both.

The Problem
The Solution


Reimagine the project structure to reduce confusion for the volunteers and provide increased mentorship. Employ the expertise of the DFI community during the segment of the 12-week project it is needed most.

Roles added to the project:

  • Guest Specialist to utilize the expertise of the community in segments of a project to increase the knowledge exchange and sense of community

  • Team leads to provide clear team direction and volunteer objectives met

  • Product Manager for scalability and to free up the founder's time

Proposed Team Structure

DFI Team Structure.png


Service Designer and Team Lead

I led a team of two through a 12-week project which included research, ideation, service design, business strategy, wireframing, low and high-fidelity prototyping, conducting usability tests, and iterating on designs.


Chioma Onyeozili - UX designer and Website Lead

Dani Galiano - UX Generalist



It became apparent the current organizational structure was not effective in its current state and could not support scaling.

Key Takeaways

100% of the volunteers cited collaborating and learning from a diverse community attracted them to DFI​

The lack of structure distracted all of the volunteers from focusing on the client’s problem and hinders learning

The volunteers spent the majority of the project on need finding which left little time to design a solution to the client’s problem

Semi-structured interviews were performed with the founder and 5 volunteers from a previous project with varying degrees of UX industry experience.


The goal of the interviews was to gain a better understanding of the volunteers' experience during the previous project and what attracted volunteers to DFI.


from interviews that guided design

Founder “What success looks like to me … having a lot of impact on people's lives in terms of people that are transitioning into design, but also on organizations and UN SDGs.

Inexperienced Volunteer I did wish was maybe having more authority over us because they gave us a lot of freedom and agency. I think the result of that was we created like, really big ambitious goals”

Inexperienced Volunteer “I would like to see improved is just scoping down the problem earlier so that we can provide more specific solutions and also really get a sense of like what's something actionable we can do within this short timeframe.”

Experienced Volunteer “And so I'm in the echo chamber, if I'm just keeping with my own internal peers, I need to stretch out and get other people. And so yeah, those first conversations, I was kind of just hooked because I was definitely in a very different space than when I'm traditionally in.”

Stakeholder Map

Stakeholder Map
Stakeholder map


The focus of the project was redirected to the following how might we statements:


  • How might we understand and utilize the skills in the DFI Community? (Community)

  • How might we structure projects to give a better experience to volunteers? (Organization)

  • How might we highlight DFI's commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goals? (Website Presence)



Priotitization Roadmap.png


The roadmap was created to prioritize the ideation into phases.


"Now" was the focus of our project

Colors designate the three focus areas 

  • Organization(blue)

  • Community(yellow)

  • Web Presence(green)

Business Model Canvas

Business Model Canvas

A future state business model canvas was created to add ideas generated from an ideation session

  • Partners

  • Revenue streams

  • Customer streams 

The canvas further highlights the skills of the DFI community as a value proposition to the clients

Business model canvas.png


Reimagine the project structure to reduce confusion for the volunteers and provide increased mentorship. Employ the expertise of the DFI community during the segment of the 12-week project it is needed most.

Client onboarding team:
  • Client need-finding meeting prior to the project start

  • Create and train clients on Design Thinking and what support is expected of the client during the project


Conduct pre-project meetings with volunteers:
  • Educate volunteers on what employers are looking for from each role in a case study

  • Determine what volunteers want out of and how they will use this opportunity in the future

  • Assign clear roles and responsibilities to each team member to minimize confusion 


Team Lead:

Individual contributors get the opportunity of leadership experience to level up their careers. By working as a manager and a leader they can show their employers that they have management experience and can get a promotion

Breakdown of Team Structure

Guest Specialists were created to utilize the community knowledge/skills for segments of the project.

Key improvements:

  • Experienced professionals can volunteer their expertise with a smaller time commitment.  

  • The team lead and facilitators don’t have to be the experts

  • Force multiplier on Mentorship(many different points of view)

  • Subject Matter Expert specialists to provide guidance for complex skills

DFI Guest Specialists.png

Product Manager was added to lead the projects to free up the Founder’s time and support scalability. Facilitators are the team interface between the specialists.

Key improvements:

  • Business scalable and DFI can work on more than one project at a time 

  • The founder can pursue other things or take an absence for an entire project.

  • Frees up facilitators to act as true facilitators

Specialist Team


  • The roles are naturally defined

  • Easier for volunteers to show their contribution to the project and show in a case study


  • Volunteer skills may not be  available with this distribution

DFI Team Specialist Team.png

Hybrid Team

DFI Hybrid Team.png


  • Partnering a generalist with a specialist could deepen their skills

  • Specialist skills available


  • Role definition is less clear for the generalists. Team meeting at the start to define roles and get commitment

Generalist Team


  • Easier to staff a team

  • Members can work together on the same task


  • No clear roles. Team meeting at the start to define roles and get commitment is critical

  • Needs a strong team lead 

  • Might lack specialist skills

DFI Generalist Team.png
Team Structures
DFI Facilitator.png
Service Blueprint

Future State Service Blueprint

  • Send emails to clients with updates on the process while the application is reviewed (Customer engagement)

  • Create client onboarding to prepare for design thinking (Reduce confusion during project and improve collaboration)

  • Offboarding to identify opportunities to implement another project (Growth)

The service blueprint revealed the following additional opportunities

Key Takeaways


The initial problem statement was generated to create a scalable business to attract more clients and volunteers without the founder as the driving force.  During the research phase, it was apparent the current organizational structure was not effective in its current state and could not support scaling.  


Project team redesigned by creating:

  1. Client onboarding team

  2. Guest Specialists

  3. Variable Team Structures

  4. Preferred Productivity Time


This will not only improve the effectiveness of the team but also lead to increased satisfaction among volunteers, resulting in better retention rates and a more engaged and committed volunteer community.

The new process was not tested since the organization has been dormant since this project concluded.

Want to see more?
Let's chat.

bottom of page