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Holiday Donations Made Easy: The First Charity Platform in Saudi Arabia

P2H participated in the development of the National Donations Platform — a first-of-its-kind technological solution supporting centuries-long traditions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  • Client Takamol Holding
  • Industry

    Government, semi-government, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations

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    As one of the five pillars of Islam, charity, known as Zakat, increases during the month of Ramadan. The holy month ends with one of the biggest Muslim holidays called “Eid al-Fitr”. For Muslims around the globe, this holiday is a period of sacrifice, deep reflection, and joyful family gatherings. But the centuries-long traditions could have been greatly diminished in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic limited family gatherings, personal interactions, and almsgiving. Social and cultural life spheres were all surrounded by a negative aura.

    That’s when we joined forces with our client, Takamol Holding, to develop a platform that digitized donations. The idea of a platform was to allow people to fulfill their charitable missions without the severe health risk of COVID-19. Moreover, with the platform we developed, people could designate donations for specific causes, such as for COVID-19 patients who desperately needed support.

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    Because we came on board with limited time left before the holiday, we started with a minimum viable product (MVP). Combining P2H expertise with the client’s vision, we then expanded the development of the MVP into a full-scale platform. It should collect donations of many kinds, including those directed to healthcare, education, orphans, community services, and more. P2H team, however, faced several challenges along the way, due in part to tight deadlines as well as cultural practices.

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    The first challenging task referred to the user experience. We had to find out what motivates people to make donations and the mechanisms users typically use to make them. For instance, we had to learn how much a family is obliged to donate during the holidays, how it’s calculated, and which categories of citizens are considered the most vulnerable and need unfailing aid. To this end, we performed an extensive cultural and business analysis of users and zakat.

    Another challenge was that the requirements for the project were a bit underspecified but had to be rapidly implemented (two-week period) in an MVP.


    We successfully created a working MVP in just two weeks and managed to test the concept under real-life conditions. Despite the tight terms, we met the client’s initial requirements. We provided basic payment functionality for several predefined donation opportunities, one of which was donating to people affected by COVID-19.

    The first release of the full-fledged platform was timed to Eid Al-Adha, another important Muslim holiday. That time, the P2H team enriched the solution with the following functionality:

    • Provided tools for managing content, users, charity projects, and other platform items.
    • Extended the types of donations to meet the different needs of various groups of people.
    • Implemented other religious donation options like operating mobile chapels, taking care of mosques, providing translations and books of interpretation, organizing courses, etc.
    • Offered multiple payment options.
    • Introduced new user roles: Admin in charge of the entire system management; Donor, a registered user who can make donations; Charity Organization, a registered user with rights to launch charity projects.
    • Added third-party integrations with email and SMS delivery services, payment gateways, etc.

    The variety of causes eligible for donations increased considerably in this version. Now they include aiding people with disabilities, renovating homes for families living in poverty, helping prisoners released during Ramadan, and many others.

    We designed the platform to resemble a shopping platform’s look and feel. The users can donate to one or more causes or make automatic weekly, monthly, or yearly donations to a cause via subscriptions. Users can track secure payments by accessing the statistics page, where charts and progress bars depict activity.

    The National Donation Platform has become extremely popular in its category (charity and lifestyle) in the KSA. It serves as an excellent example of a software solution for the government that’s both useful and appealing. As you can see, the app’s popularity speaks for itself.

    • Current Opportunities 332
    • Beneficiaries of the Donations 6,978,043
    • Transactions 2,564,577

    Our team continued to perfect the user experience while investigating cultural and social requirements for the app. For instance, the idea for the platform conformed with Vision 2030, a state-sponsored program for economic, social, and environmental improvements. The product embraced the ambitious goals the program set for the technology sector — to raise the efficiency and quality of digital platforms, ensure business continuity, speed up the growth of the digital economy, etc

    Tech stack and processes

    • Our developers used Vue.js for the front end and Ruby on Rails for the back end.
    • To target mobile users, we released apps for iOS and Android with the same functionality as the web platform.
    • We used the React Native framework for the mobile apps because it lets our developers create native apps with compelling user experiences.
    • Continuous delivery and continuous integration (CI/CD) allowed us to deploy changes to all environments quickly and reliably.
    • We chose to use a microservices architecture so that the apps would accommodate large numbers of users.
    • Thanks to SCRUM practices, the progress could easily be tracked both by the client’s teams as well as ours.
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    We successfully transformed the means by which Saudi Arabians make donations. For the first time, the people of the KSA could make religious donations online.

    Over just a few days, people donated more than one million SAR (more than $250,000 in US dollars). Despite the high user load, all donations were processed promptly and without error. In essence, it stress-tested the product.

    For the past two years, total donations have comprised more than 162 million SAR (more than $43 million in US dollars).

    More than 6.5 million users have donated through the platform, and more than 2.5 million are active monthly donors.

    The donation process is secure and transparent and monitored by the KSA Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, helping connect donors with the needy and preventing fraud.

    The platform is scalable and reliable. We emphasized scalability during development because the app must automatically scale in size during high-load periods to accommodate an ever-increasing number of users.

    Future plans

    We’ve been enhancing and supporting the platform for two years, and its popularity continues to grow. By the end of 2022, we plan to add new features to the web platform and the Android and iOS mobile applications. Namely, we plan to add new categories of donation projects, provide an option to launch charity auctions, and supplement user roles with a Foundation type of users (they will have access to the specific private projects only). We continue to extend the list of third-party integrations and update the code base using cutting-edge technology.

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