I-SITE & Hidden City: New Take on Donation Platform

Categories: Our Work

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I-SITE is excited to be partnering with Hidden City Philadelphia on the design and development of their donations-driven 2013 Festival website.  Local Philadelphia-based nonprofit, Hidden City generates awareness and educates people about Philadelphia’s lesser-known and often endangered buildings. In 2009 Hidden City produced a festival that featured several of these buildings. Festival attendees were encouraged to explore and attend a variety of arts performances in each of the spaces.

This year, from May 23 – June 30 Hidden City will be hosting their second festival. The festival will feature nine sites across Philadelphia. Hidden City explains that, “Each of the sites will be activated by art–in most cases artist interventions that engage with the site and its history and draw in the audience to take part in the remaking of the city.”

Hidden City approached I-SITE with an exciting, new model for generating a very engaged community of festival supporters and participants. With funding from the Barra Foundation, Hidden City wanted to create a festival website that took the ‘kickstarter’ community-driven project model several steps further. The website would enable supporters of the festival to create user accounts and donate not only money but the valuable volunteer time and project materials that are vital to seeing the project through to fruition.

By recognizing that non-profit events often not only need money, but volunteer support and a connected people network of resources, Hidden City and I-SITE have been able to build a model that is easily applicable to festivals and events in a wide variety of sectors – non-profits, arts, entertainment, etc.

The website and CMS are built on Ruby on Rails.  I-SITE Developer Chris Ell, who led the project development, chose Ruby on Rails because it is a clean and efficient web framework for building robust web applications. It does much of the heavy lifting while building a website, boasting the catchphrase ‘convention over configuration’, allowing us to focus on the user experience and features of the site. Another benefit to Rails is its built in handling of ‘Resources’. Due to the site’s nature of handling Projects, Sites, Donations, and Users, Rails deals with the relationship between these items very well making for simple ways of associating one thing with another.

The next phase of the project, slated to be launched in early May includes an events and ticketing portion of the site.