Our Portland Office’s Dress for Success Event Recap

The North Highland team in Portland, OR recently collaborated with Dress for Success Oregon (DFSO) for a one-of-a-kind event. Bringing in over 40 local client and community partners, North Highland hosted an immersive design workshop, where the group worked in teams to apply design thinking to the biggest donor experience challenge faced by Dress for Success to-date.



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The Challenge

Dress for Success Oregon (DFSO) contributes over $16 million dollars to the Oregon economy each year by ensuring that their clients obtain and maintain employment. After serving over 25,000 Oregon women throughout its 18 year history, DFSO is now asking the community to “Invest in Dress.” Over the next three years, DFSO has an ambitious plan to raise significant funds to ensure and secure the future of the organization. DFSO needs a flexible endowment, space expansion, and security and infrastructure support. The organization also needs a strategy to engage new, current, and past donors and differentiate amongst others competing for these same dollars.



The Approach

Event participants consisted of clients, community partners, North Highland Experience Design experts, and DFSO leadership. They came together for four hours, breaking the work into three key phases; insights, experience strategy and design, and experience enablement. Each phase kicked off with a training “snack”—a quick and surface-level education segment focused on the basics of each phase, followed by an activity that would bring the concepts to life by allowing for immediate application of learning.






The Outcomes

The Insights phase allowed participants to learn more about DFSO and to leverage data and secondary research to explore the value proposition, create profiles of donors, and propose how DFSO might think about building lasting relationships with them. The Strategy and Design phase allowed the participants to ideate on actual solutions and experiences that could appeal to drive donor engagement across the different types of donors. Lastly, the Enablement phase allowed participants to think about the critical internal and operational changes that DFSO might also need to consider in parallel with these new strategies.

As a result of the workshop, participants learned about the Experience Design process, the impactful services that DFSO offers (which go beyond clothing donation; to learn more, click here), and connected with each other while having fun and trying out some new skills. All the great work that was kicked off at this event is the beginning of a partner project where DFSO will receive ongoing support from North Highland consultants on their future strategic plan and ambitious capital campaign.

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"What a fabulous opportunity it was for us to be able to receive such pertinent input from a group of very talented individuals. I think those involved were truly engaged and there was such great energy in the room! We look forward to leveraging these outputs in our future work." -Karen Fishel, Dress for Success Oregon Co-Founder

The outcomes showcase and happy hour that followed the event presented an excellent opportunity to reflect on the experience and strengthen relationships. To see more photos from the high energy event, and to stay connected with our work, please follow us on Facebook.