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Sightsavers By Kyan


Making a visible difference with an international donation platform

Sightsavers are an international charity working to eliminate avoidable blindness. Sir John Wilson, Sightsavers founder, lost his eyesight after an explosion during a chemistry lesson. He continued his studies before taking a job with the National Institute for the Blind, where he travelled much of Africa and the Middle East. Shocked at the scale of blindness and the conditions in which he found blind people living, he started Sightsavers in 1950.

Developing for good

Our work with Sightsavers focused on their donation platform — a fundamental area of their website and their primary gateway for digital donations. The Kyan development team built the back-end from the ground up using the Ruby on Rails framework. This allowed us to go from concept to live quickly, and set the groundwork for a reliable and future-proofed platform.


of every £1 received goes
towards vital charity work


countries are covered by
Sightsavers' efforts


raised through
donations in 2017

World-class integration...

Sightsavers wanted to step away from third-party systems and take control of their donations platform in one unified but versatile solution. This would allow them to tailor exactly how it works across many different regions of the world, and cater for the different currencies and payment methods found in the countries that the platform serves. For instance, what we call ‘direct debit’ in the UK will be something entirely different in Sweden, not just in terms of currency, but also authorising, processing, and other factors too.

Stripe Logo
PayPal Logo

...and enterprise-level partnerships

To ensure usability on a global scale, we integrated with Stripe and PayPal — two undeniably credible transaction platforms. We implemented Stripe’s payment and subscription products so we could enable one-off and recurring donations in various amounts and currencies. PayPal, a ubiquitous payment provider, added flexibility and safety. Being an internationally recognised platform, many web users have already connected their PayPal to a bank account or debit card. It’s rare to use more than one payment gateway, but it’s important that users all over the world see the Sightsavers platform as an easy-to-use and trusted method to donate to the charity.

Unlocking valuable data

Analytics and reporting were integrated into the setup to give the Sightsavers team full control of their appeals and campaigns from beginning to end. Custom permission levels meant that team members only accessed what they needed – a fundamentally important feature when dealing with personal data and various data protection laws. These powerful admin features also unlocked efficiencies within the team, allowing individuals to focus on their particular area of work and not having to worry about information overload or ‘noise’ from other areas of the admin portal. All of these benefits were a huge improvement in functionality for the Sightsavers team, and provided an entirely new set of data for them to work with.

“We knew that replacing our online donations platform would be a complicated project. I’m delighted that thanks to the team’s hard work we now have a platform that gives us the flexibility we need to grow and optimise across the different countries where we fundraise.”
Ella Pierce, Global Head of Digital Fundraising

A seamless switch

The design and user journey of the donation process was already tried and tested through numerous UX workshops, and Sightsavers were happy with this area. To retain this performance, it was important that the Kyan-built front end remained faithful to the original design. A seamless switch to the new platform meant that Sightsavers could continue with strong conversion rates and customers were unaware of any change to the system.

The result? A reliable, world-class donation platform that can be used all over the world to make a difference to people’s eyesight, their health and their livelihood.