Case Study

New Advocacy Group Organizes a New Generation of Human Rights Volunteers

Americans rising to meet a crisis

In the world of social justice, timing is everything. The 2016 presidential election generated an unprecedented sense of urgency among those passionate about human rights. Many who had never taken action before felt newly ready and energized to share their skills with socially responsible organizations.

A new formed and highly motivated advocacy group emerged in 2017 to create a bridge between eager volunteer lawyers and the organizations that needed their help more than ever. Founded by a small group of dedicated lawyers, the new service sought to connect nonprofits in fields like immigration, housing, and education to lawyers who were willing, to volunteers with appropriate passion and skill.

The founders had a vision, a passion, and a network. They needed a strategy.

Creating a marketplace for change

We committed to this mission together. After a few initial calls, we sat down for a two-day working session to plot an adaptable roadmap and devise an end-to-end strategy for building a new online directory.

They were two jam-packed days, to be sure. We generated initial design and messaging guidelines, agreed to firm milestones including a strategically-chosen launch date, and produced a list of technical requirements for organization’s website.

Following the session, we set to work developing the organization’s website. Using web application framework Ruby on Rails, we built an easy-to-use directory that would allow lawyers and organizations to create profiles, discover potential partners, and create new connections.

“Mil Mil Gracias”

The highly anticipated, and well received,  website launched in July of 2017 to a rush of signups from volunteers. Within a year from launch, their directory had hosted thousands of volunteers and organizations, facilitated hundreds of successful connections, and recorded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of completed volunteer work.

On the first anniversary of their launch, a success story was shared with us.  Melanie, a volunteer lawyer from New Jersey with new immigration experience, used the online directory to connect with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. They gave her the training they needed, and assigned her to help a family of undocumented immigrants who had been detained by ICE and separated from one another.

With Melanie’s help, they’ve been released and reunited. Her clients sent her a letter of thanks, which concluded:

Estaremos eternamente agradecidos
Con cada una de las personas que
Fueron parte de esto
Mil mil gracias.

“We will be forever grateful
To every person who was involved in this.
A thousand thousand thank yous.”


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