New Drupal + CiviCRM Site: Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis

Ken Moire // Case Studies
Variety: The Children's Charity of St. Louis


Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping thousands of local St. Louis children with disabilities say “I can” by providing them with vital medical equipment, as well as educational, therapeutic, and recreational programs. Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis is an international leader in fundraising and providing grants to more than 75 partner agencies throughout the St. Louis area. The grants directly impact the lives of St. Louis area children with physical and mental disabilities.

Variety was looking for a partner to improve their website and online fundraising efforts with a more cost-effective, sustainable, and manageable platform. Already familiar with open source systems, Variety felt our recommendation of a Drupal website with CiviCRM integration was the right fit for their organization.


As defined by the client, the goals for the new Variety branding and website included:

  • Increase awareness of Variety the Children’s Charity mission.
  • Increase donor engagement and expand individual online donations.
  • Determine best way to incorporate Help A Variety Kid campaign into existing Variety brand and site architecture.
  • Provide strategy, user experience design, and development of a new donor management portal, Help A Variety Kid.
  • Implement real-time progress bars that show percentage of goal reached for specific donation goals.
  • Create automated emails and messages, including confirmation, thank you and receipts.
  • Create a platform for the community to get involved with corporate-sponsored and branded promotions and campaigns.

Requirements and Strategy Phase

The Variety Saint Louis site was built on an outdated version of the Orchard CMS, an open source .NET content management system. The site was not regularly maintained, which resulted in broken pages and difficultly in content administration. The site also experienced high bounce rates that Variety sought to improve. Based on our analysis of Variety’s organizational needs for their website, we recommended rebuilding the site using Drupal and CiviCRM.

During this strategy phase, we also worked with Variety to redefine their donation and event management processes. We examined the current online donation process and documented areas that would be configured to accept online donations and event registration.

Branding Strategy

We worked with Variety’s internal marketing team and their marketing agency, Momentum, to devise the best strategy for incorporating the newly branded donation platform, Help A Variety Kid (HAVK), into the Variety family. The discussion centered around whether to create HAVK as a standalone donation platform at its own url (separate from or incorporate HAVK into the website architecture that Spry Digital was currently developing in Drupal.

It was decided that Variety would leverage the brand recognition of Variety St. Louis by driving traffic from Help A Variety Kid marketing campaigns to the existing website. A new donation portal, branded Help A Variety Kid, would be developed on the new Drupal website that would accommodate a variety of donation types. Variety could continue to promote Help A Variety Kid in the media while driving traffic to, improving brand recognition, site traffic, and organic SEO.

User Experience Design

We spent time with the client to understand the pain points with their current website and processes. Features identified during the requirements phase allowed us to capture important features for the wireframes.

  • Direct donation links that would allow users to donate in two easy steps.
  • A dedicated donation section that would engage donors and handle a variety of donation types.
  • Kickstarter-like donation pages that would allow a user to browse and choose a specific item that they would like to donate towards.
  • Thermometer gauges on items to indicate real-time percentage complete of goals.
  • Donation pages, powered by CiviCRM, with a contribution widget for online donation management.
  • Event Management, powered by CiviCRM, allowing upcoming events to display on the Drupal site and allowing participants to register online.

With the Drupal site migration underway and the Help A Variety Kid branding strategy coming into focus, we worked with the Momentum team to set a direction for the new donation portal on the website. Wireframes were created by Spry Digital to address layout, structure and functionality. An emphasis on design of the CiviCRM donation and event pages, beyond what CiviCRM provides out-of-the-box, was important to improve user experience and donation and event registration conversions.

Design and Development

The task of creating the front-end design of the Help A Variety Kid portal went to Momentum. They created a compelling, colorful design that highlighted photography of Variety Kids.

The Drupal website was developed using the Zen theme framework. Content types were identified and Drupal views were created to publish content throughout the site (including CiviCRM donation and event data). Blocks displaying the latest tweets and photos from Flickr were configured to provide fresh social media integration.

Several CiviCRM features were configured and integrated, including contribution widgets, donation forms, online event registration, and corporate sponsorship information. To provide a rich and seamless integration with Drupal, functionality provided by the CiviCRM Webform Integration module and CiviCRM View Integration was extensively used.

Our team also worked to reduce the number of steps potential donors must take to donate online by building a feature to automatically feed donation amounts entered in Calls to Action on Drupal pages into the CiviCRM donation form of the site.

Key Modules

  • CiviCRM
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • Views (including CiviCRM integration)
  • Panels
  • Webforms (including CiviCRM Webform integration)
  • Zen theme


We measure success by meeting and exceeding goals for our clients. For Variety we accomplished:

  • Successfully integrated Help A Variety Kid donation platform into the existing Drupal site, allowing donors to make multiple types of donations online and significantly streamlining fundraising efforts.
  • Provided the ability to promote corporate-sponsored donation campaigns.
  • Successfully integrated CiviCRM event management. Recently, 24 tables for Variety Trivia Night were registered and sold online.
  • Improved the bounce rate on by 40%.

Variety Website: a Drupal + CiviCRM Solution

How does the client enjoy their new Drupal/CiviCRM website?

We chose CiviCRM because of it's ease to use, open source platform and ability to keep donor-generated pages.We absolutely love CiviCRM. Our bounce rate has decreased, our ease to change content is much improved, and our donations have increased.

Accolades for Spry Digital:

Their organizational timelines were fantastic. Clear, concise and if any problems were on the horizon they would properly adjust the schedule to meet our needs. Their knowledge of our website is impressive, I feel like they have a solution to any problem we have.

Visit Variety at and make a donation today at

If you want to know more about how Drupal or CiviCRM can help your fundraising goals, drop us a line.