Secret Santa Sacrifice – Gifting For Good

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Last year as winter closed in you may have been one of the many people now roped into the tradition that is the office wide Secret Santa. Whilst many are left scratching their heads wondering on how best to stretch out say a £5 budget, the team at We Are Social were asked to turn the idea on it’s head on behalf of the charitable organisation Age UK. We invited Matthew from We Are Social to take up the story of what led them to build Secret Santa Sacrifice.

As December draws closer, your average Managing Director starts speaking about the annual agency Christmas card / experience / gimmick. This is something every agency does and is more of a self promotion piece than anything else.

The innovation team at We Are Social has a mantra to ‘innovate for good’. So, we asked if we could take the internal investment that would have gone on a card or similar, and instead do something that benefits someone or something else.

We discovered that one million older people go a month without talking to anyone – and loneliness is felt even more keenly at Christmas, when half a million older people will spend the day alone. Age UK wants to help provide support, companionship and advice to older people and their loved ones and so they turned to us.

And this is where #SecretSantaSacrifice comes in. We made a virtual shop of the classic Secret Santa crap, and rather than buying a real-life gift, we asked people to donate the purchase price and send a virtual present instead. The idea was that your Secret Santee wouldn’t go empty handed – as you’d still be able to tweet, Facebook or email a friend or colleague with their ‘gift’, as well as being able to download a gift certificate for yourself, too.

JustGiving was the number one choice to collect donations. Age UK already had an account and standard page set up, so we didn’t have to worry about that. A quick search brought in all the information we needed on how to connect via APIs to the JustGiving service.

The great part – thanks to the Simple Donation Integration service – was the redirect back to our site after the completed donation where we used the returned donationID to fetch the transaction information to confirm payment (no personal data) before loading and providing the required means of sharing the gift.

We were able to build the solution in a matter of weeks and the smr small site was built using PHP (+ MySQL) and the Laravel MVC framework. Hosted on AWS EC2 using S3 for storage we were able to scale to demand.


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About the author

Jamie Parkins

Product Manager, Evangelist and all things API

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