Joseph Rowntree Foundation


Joseph Rowntree Foundation

We explored what roles JRF might play within the movement ecosystem in the UK. Our goal was to find new ways to surface their work online, through research and rapid prototyping.
A prototype homepage for the JRF housing campaign, detailing systemic housing issues within society

The mission of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is to inspire action and change to solve UK poverty .

At the moment, they do a mix of: traditional think tank work, supporting cultural and third sector initiatives, co-designing policies with people with lived experience of poverty, online campaigning, supporting grassroots organisations, and working in coalition with other charities and foundations.

We collaborated with JRF to explore the roles they play within this movement ecosystem. Our goal was to find new ways to surface their work online, through research and rapid prototyping. These prototypes explored how to make direct links between research and policy recommendations and campaigning and building power in communities affected by poverty.

We interviewed a range of grassroots organisations and asked them what they needed from think tanks to support their work in the field.

We used their responses to build HTML prototypes, which we then user tested with real people working in these contexts. The results were exciting:

  • Easy access to relevant expertise was a simple element to add, but made a massive difference
  • Access to trusted data and policy recommendations made people feel empowered to have, sometimes tricky, conversations about poverty and its sources in their communities
  • JRF could develop a community around these organisations online using off the shelf tools like Slack, if one did not exist already

When implemented, these recommendations should help JRF to be of greater service to movements, as opposed to being seen as a distant provider of facts or policy.

I brought in Common Knowledge to prototype new formats for a future JRF website. Their work focused on both online publishing and community organising. It's a tricky brief: how do you make an organisation come across as both a credible source of policy information and a welcoming online home for community activists? Especially when it needs to pass the apolitical sniff test. I'd specifically asked Common Knowledge to prototype in code and work intelligently with data: too many agencies don't. They work with a clear view of building beautiful products that suit the needs of a range of users. I was impressed by their thoughtful approach to the problem, their obvious domain expertise, and how well they engaged with stakeholders from across the organisation.

Ella Fitzsimmons, Head of Digital Transformation and Service Design (interim), Joseph Rowntree Foundation