Firespring, Raikes students collaborate for Give to Lincoln Day

by Victoria Grdina Thu, 2017-05-18 12:34

Firespring is a company that’s all about giving back. Its latest project with Raikes School Design Studio students will help nonprofits give back even more to their communities.

The two teams collaborated to create a more functional website for the Lincoln Community Foundation — one that could handle high visitor volumes for a cheaper price. This new design would allow the foundation to accommodate sharp traffic increases on occasions like Give to Lincoln Day while keeping costs low the rest of the year.

“We heard how much [Lincoln nonprofits] were getting charged and were like, ‘Holy cow. You guys are losing a lot of your donation money to this,’” said Firespring product manager Andrew Newton. “We have the means to help them set up the same type of platform, but for dramatically less, so more of the money that they raise goes to the actual people they’re donating to.”

Firespring then teamed up with Raikes students to build a new website using AWS Lambda, a serverless architecture provided by Amazon Web Services primarily designed for giving day events. Unlike other websites that communicate with one or a few specific servers, a website using AWS Lambda can run its code through Amazon’s mass number of servers when web traffic suddenly spikes.

“One of the cool things about AWS Lambda is that it has so few components,” said senior and project manager Wyatt Goodin. “So much is handled for you, which has its benefits and drawbacks, but it’s an interesting new way of things working. I can see a lot of future applications for it as it becomes more developed and well grounded.”

Not only will the new platform help cut costs for nonprofit clients, but it may help them gain donations too. Major outages and crashes are possible during periods of abnormally high activity, causing nonprofits to lose out on funds. AWS Lambda is constructed specifically for such occasions.

“We built this from the ground up in a way that essentially can’t go down,” Newton said. “We’re using AWS in a way that is very robust and not prone to having issues that would disrupt the giving day.”

Newton also said that the technology is new to Firespring, and the team members have enjoyed the collaborative learning experience. They plan to transition the finished product over to Firespring and expand its use with future clients.

“The hope is that we’ll be able to take what we’re making here and adapt it so another community foundation could use the same thing,” said Newton. “We’re not just helping one nonprofit. It’s something that can benefit the whole community.”