Strengthening a Foundation's Commitment to Social Justice through its Website
A family foundation with over five generations of history, the Surdna Foundation fosters sustainable communities and inclusive economies across America. After celebrating their 100 year anniversary, Surdna reached out to Constructive to help them rethink their brand and website so it more clearly reflected their social justice mission to develop healthy environments, equitable, sustainable communities, and thriving cultures.
How can we answer all the unknowns before we start creating?
When Surdna reached out to us, their team knew they wanted to create a website that equaled the significance of the foundation’s 100 years of history. What this vision lacked, however, was clarity into what rethinking their aging digital infrastructure meant, how content would need to change to be aligned with their new program strategy, and what kinds of features would add value—as opposed to just cost. A strategic discovery process helped us answer these and other important questions. Through a website and content audit, interviews & surveys, peer research, and digital strategy workshops, we created context and clarified goals for a website that would engage Surdna’s diverse audiences and demonstrate their new theory of change.
What are the brand values we need to express through design?
Surdna wanted their website to project their new mission and organizational values of being empowering, direct, compelling, and credible. With these as our north star, our design team developed a variety of design concept boards that offered different approaches to color, type, image, and graphic treatments. After reviewing and refining with Surdna’s team, we created a visual system to serve as a foundation for exploration in the website design process.
Everything in the experience needs to flow from our mission and values.
Research revealed the most important issues to address in the redesign: Surdna’s website was difficult to navigate and made content hard to find, the experience failed to deliver a focused message or demonstrate Surdna’s work and that of their grantees, and visually, the site’s text-heavy pages were visually unengaging. We collaborated with Surdna’s team, organizing the site experiences to express Surna’s mission, values, theory of change, focus areas, program strategy, focus areas, the work of their grantees, and more. The result is a site structure that brings everything together to create a brand narrative that clearly articulates Surdna’s story—and the stories of the communities they support.
We need to demonstrate dignity, vibrancy, and above all, respect.
Visual design was where we really got the opportunity to bring Surdna’s work and the lives of the people they work with to life. Design strategy leads with authentic imagery that expresses asset-framed narratives—visually demonstrating dignity, inclusion, and justice to help empower the communities Surdna partners with. Contemporary color and typography frame the experience, delivering content that articulates Surdna’s mission, delivers value to grant-seekers and shares their stories, and elevates Surdna’s thought leadership to strengthen the field.
Surdna’s new website creates cohesion across its program areas, focus areas, and grantees—connecting everything by the organization’s history, traditions, mission, and values.
How can we encourage people to engage with our history?
Surdna is proud of its 100 years of family stewardship and dedication to service and wanted to use their website to connect audiences to this legacy. To share the foundation’s history and demonstrate its ongoing commitment to impact in the future, we created an interactive timeline—connecting past, present, and future with a streamlined design and concise content that tell Surdna’s story in an understated, but meaningful way.
We need to make grantmaking history accessible.
Surdna staff overwhelmingly expressed a desire for their new website to more prominently showcase grantee work. So, in addition to providing a platform to publish Grantee Spotlights that tell the stories of organizations funded by each of Surdna’s program areas, we designed and developed a Grants Database, integrating with Fluxx so that users can easily access all grants by program, year, and issue areas.