Good Friday Appeal:delivering a donation app for The Royal Children’s Hospital

About Good Friday Appeal

Good Friday Appeal is a charity that raises money for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, with a year-round program of events culminating in a high-profile 15-hour telethon on Good Friday.

Industries: Non-profit
Location: Australia

About 3wks

3wks is Australia’s longest-running Google Cloud partner. Since 2012, the 3wks BeyondAgile principles have accelerated the digital ambitions of customers across almost 200 projects. 3wks works with enterprise and public sector organisations delivering digital solutions that users and customers value.

With Google Cloud Platform, Good Friday Appeal and 3wks have delivered an agile, dynamic application that captures, manages and analyses donors and payments, and reconciles payments with the relevant bank.

Google Cloud Results

  • Delivered rapid response times and high availability to provide an excellent experience for individuals and organisations looking to donate to the appeal
  • Minimised support and administration requirements for the application
  • Supported real-time donor and payment analysis and reporting

App supports A$6M in donations in 12 to 18 hour period

With a history stretching back to 1931, the Good Friday Appeal is a charity that raises money for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. The charity runs a program of activities each year that culminates in a high-profile 15-hour telethon each Good Friday. In 2017 alone, the Good Friday Appeal raised A$17.6 million to improve the quality of care for children at the hospital.

By 2013, the Good Friday Appeal was using several legacy systems to manage donations and information about donors. These systems were hard to operate and enhance, while support was expensive. To reduce costs, minimise administration resource requirements and streamline its processes, the charity decided to consolidate the functions performed by these systems into a single cloud-based web application.

“We completed a detailed analysis of the existing array of systems used by the Good Friday Appeal to determine which features were less important and could be eliminated. This enabled the Good Friday Appeal to focus on the core capabilities needed to capture, manage and analyse donors and payments, and reconcile payments with the relevant bank.”

Adrian Mawer, Consultant, 3wks

This application needed to support business requirements, such as credit card payments and customer relationship management data capture, during 364 days of low traffic before scaling to support more than A$6 million worth of donations and accompanying data in a single 12 to18 hour period.

“We completed a detailed analysis of the systems used by Good Friday Appeal to determine which features could be eliminated,” says Adrian Mawer, Consultant, 3wks. “This enabled Good Friday Appeal to focus on the core capabilities needed to capture, manage and analyse donors and payments, and reconcile payments with the relevant bank.

“We also identified which Google Cloud Platform services could best support those capabilities.”

The Good Friday Appeal application incorporates a customised customer relationship management system that enables back office team members to manage donor details, and a public facing website that takes pledges and credit card transactions, and reconciles them with relevant banks.

The app supports spikes in traffic driven by calls to action featured in the Seven Network coverage of the Good Friday Appeal telethon. These calls to action prompt people to go to their phones, tablets, notebooks or desktops to visit the application and donate. The application also enables the Good Friday Appeal to log details of the coin and note donations collected by charity workers and volunteers.

The web application is available at https://donate.goodfridayappeal.com.au/donate.

The Good Friday Appeal is running the application in Google App Engine to support heavy traffic loads. The Google App Engine memcache service caches static images, web pages and Javascript files close to users in different locations. This speeds up response times and reduces the load on virtual machines and databases. Automated scaling helps ensure that traffic is managed without disruption. Google Cloud Datastore runs a highly-scalable database for the Good Friday Appeal, while Google Cloud Storage stores receipts for all the donations received. “Google Cloud Platform also provides the rock solid transaction support we need to manage customers who are giving money by credit card,” says Mawer.

“The simplicity of Google Cloud Platform means we can move the dials in minutes to suit the shape of the traffic we expect each day, whereas, in other environments, administrators may need a day or a week to make similar adjustments.”

Adrian Mawer, Consultant, 3wks

“We also make heavy use of the Google App Engine Task Queues to process large numbers of requests simultaneously and throttle them to a certain throughput if necessary,” he adds. “The simplicity of Google Cloud Platform means we can ‘move the dials’ in minutes to suit the shape of the traffic we expect each day, whereas, in other environments, administrators may need a day or a week to make similar changes.”

A Google BigQuery data analytics warehouse also helps deliver real-time financial reporting to the Good Friday Appeal and the Seven Network. “When the application went live in 2013, we were able to service the first two Good Friday Appeal telethons well in terms of taking credit card transactions,” explains Mawer.

“However, during broadcast coverage of the telethon, the Seven Network would regularly flash up the total amount donated each hour. We wanted to ensure the reports that the network relied on for those figures continued to be delivered in a timely fashion.”

In the lead-up to the Good Friday Appeal telethon in 2015, 3wks used streaming functionality in GCP to send data associated with actions, such as pledges or credit card transactions, into Google BigQuery. This enabled the partner to deliver real-time reporting that ensured the donation numbers flashed up on the screen during the telethon remained accurate. “Google BigQuery did so much out of the box,” says Mawer. “The service performed so much of the indexing seamlessly and we just ran queries to determine the contributions by hour or by minute.”

High levels of performance and availability

3wks and Good Friday Appeal are extremely pleased with the performance and reliability of the app running on GCP. The application has maintained high levels of availability and rapid response times during demand spikes on the one day of the year when at least A$6 million goes through the system. 3wks is continuing to support the application, including undertaking moderate to large enhancements.

Little need to raise support tickets

“There has been very little need for us to raise tickets with Google Cloud Platform because the platform is performing as the Good Friday Appeal requires,” says Mawer. “The speed with which we can stand up a new application and scale it to very high levels with only two developers and no support team is why we use Google Cloud Platform.”

About Good Friday Appeal

Good Friday Appeal is a charity that raises money for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, with a year-round program of events culminating in a high-profile 15-hour telethon on Good Friday.

Industries: Non-profit
Location: Australia

About 3wks

3wks is Australia’s longest-running Google Cloud partner. Since 2012, the 3wks BeyondAgile principles have accelerated the digital ambitions of customers across almost 200 projects. 3wks works with enterprise and public sector organisations delivering digital solutions that users and customers value.

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