research, prototyping, + Concept design for the anti-cruelty society

This conceptual project was part of AIGA’s Design for Social Impact series in partnership with The Anti-Cruelty Society.

Challenge: First-time foster participants go through rigorous training to be approved for The Anti-Cruelty Society foster program. Yet, for varying reasons, there can be a significant delay before they might receive their first foster pet. The Anti-Cruelty Society hypothesizes this delay could be leading to disengagement and, at the time, a ~60% attrition rate in the program.

Approach: We identified our focus: How might we keep participants engaged and committed to fostering from the moment they end training until receiving their first animal? This broad hunt statement acted as our guideposts and allowed for flexibility.

We utilized design thinking methods to gather data and maximize the results from the limited resources available. Interviews with stakeholders (foster and volunteer program directors, long-term volunteers), current foster parents, as well as adding our perspectives as pet owners gave us the insights to identify implicit and explicit patterns.


Working in short sprints, we began with an initial brain dump of ideas — no limitations. From here we distilled further, challenged our own biases and assumptions, and built on or removed ideas. We were careful to consider a wide array of solutions — from print, digital, even interpersonal — that could meet the needs of The Anti-Cruelty Society and its foster participants.

With more rounds of ideating and the co-designing process, we recognized callbacks to ideas we had set aside. Reintroducing and building on those ideas during the storyboarding process provided solutions to the critical needs we heard repeated in our research: Community, Engagement, Confidence.

Result: Our conceptual solution came to life as a mobile app: Posse. Intended to foster connection and not to act as a social media platform, it is accessible to only those who have completed foster training with The Anti-Cruelty Society.

To help resolve the current pain points, we envisioned specific features such as a calendar that allows users to request help with pet sitting within the certified community. Access others for meetups and play dates. A map view, with general proximity, to encourage in-person engagement for those with or without current foster pets. And a chat feature denoting who qualifies as a Veteran Foster participant available for help to newer participants.

By tapping into the existing foster network and connecting those that are in limbo, we envisioned shifting the time and effort required for constant engagement off of The Anti-Cruelty Society and into the hands of the participants. This, plus the focus on engagement and community, empowers participants to create the foster experience best suited for them.