We have made it easier and safer to contribute to Telethon research for those who prefer digital platforms.
Website redesign


Non-profit organization recognized by the Ministry of University and Scientific and Technological Research, it was founded in 1990 to respond to the requests of patients affected by rare diseases, with the aim of financing the best scientific research on rare genetic diseases to give concrete answers to patients. Thanks to a transparent management of funds and a financing mechanism that rewards only merit, Telethon is now recognized throughout the world as an example of Italian excellence.


Improve Telethon’s digital presence by making the donor experience easier and more streamlined, in complete safety.


Since its debut in Italy in 1990, Telethon has been the name with the most resonance among those who support medical research in our country. Telethon Foundation raises funds throughout the year, through ongoing activities as well as specific campaigns. The Christmas campaign, which corresponds to the well-known television marathon, achieves around 15% of the total annual collection.

Historically linked to traditional media, the Foundation has been investing resources for some years to create and strengthen its online presence, aware of the importance that this channel will gradually assume, especially for the new generations who are starting to be part of the typical target of donors. An important change, which has impacts and dependencies on the digital culture of the donors themselves, who are still unaccustomed to information technology.

At the time of our engagement, the percentage of donations collected through the form on the Telethon website was around 3% of the total annual result. Of this 3%, a large chunk, corresponding to about 65%, was achieved during the marathon. Marginal numbers, if compared to those generated through more traditional engagement channels.

Unfortunately, the investment in digital tools was discouraged by serious stability problems, especially under heavy load. With the 2017 marathon in sight, it was essential to stabilize at least the online donations functionality and the thanks page for SMS donations which constituted important traffic spikes during the key moments of the calls to action on TV.

Telethon therefore challenged itself to rethink its digital presence to offer donors a leaner, simpler and faster experience. An experience that transmits care and safety, two values very dear to the Foundation.


When our collaboration kicked off time was running fast towards the 2017 marathon. We therefore decided to adopt an Agile approach from the design phase and capitalize on Telethon’s knowledge of its donors in a co-design workshop to which we invited representatives from all key business units: marketing, IT and donor care.

We generated ideas together, combining domain experience, stakeholder needs and technological knowledge to create a backlog, an ordered list of features to be developed, organized according to an indicative release plan. We then worked throughout the production period in a streamlined, transparent and well-ordered flow, involving the customer in trade-offs, planning and strategic evaluations.

To modernize Telethon’s digital ecosystem without wasting years of investment, we have decided to eliminate the dependency between the donation form and the website, a source of institutional information and ancillary services. This is how was born, Telethon Italia’s first digital cloud microservice.

Based on the robust Angular framework and on Google Cloud, the new donations application comes with a design faithful to the Telethon branding, an entirely renewed user experience, outstanding performance and a self-scaling infrastructure capable of automatically adapting to the load. All with very low operating costs.


The new user experience aims to make the act of donating, previously more bureaucratized, immediate. The fields required to make a donation are reduced to the basic four, while the donor is identified more thoroughly only in a second step, which is also kept low in terms of cognitive load.

The different donation methods are now clearer and it is possible to choose between regular and one-time donations. The suggested amounts clarify what expectations the organization has towards the donor, while leaving the freedom to choose independently.

The messages are more coherent and clear, they do not confuse the user, and allow them to move decisively towards the completion of the process. The main benefit was a drastic reduction in the number of leads, the unfinished donations. The small amount of information needed to donate doesn’t deter the user, who no longer has to fill out a long list of identification fields to complete the process.

On a technological level, Angular has allowed the creation of an application with high performance, which comes to life in the user’s browser and can be used on any device, in responsive mode. Such a light and modern application led us to choose a serverless approach for the backend using Google Firebase.

The donation form guaranteed solid support to the Foundation’s donation strategies, both online and offline, achieving an important result during the 2017 marathon: a 37% growth in donations through the form.

Furthermore, for the first time in Telethon’s online history, the donation area and thank-you pages for donations via SMS had no service interruptions, thanks to an infrastructure that scaled automatically according to traffic. The old website, relieved of this load, has remained fully operational, allowing users to access the online shop to purchase solidarity Christmas products.

Thanks to the agile approach adopted, the development of was completed a week ahead of schedule, and without the need for a testing phase since the customer was able to validate the product increments at the end of each week of development. We were therefore able to go into production to verify the functionality in the field, with enough time spared to let everyone sleep peacefully.

As expected during the analysis phases, the reduction of the fields needed to donate had the side effect of lowering the level of detail of the donor profiles. Telethon wanted to conduct this experiment, demonstrating that it has fully understood the key principle of an Agile approach: test your assumptions in the field! For this we will soon proceed to a new experiment that allows us to validate new ideas.

In the backlog generated during the first workshop, ideas and needs were left to direct subsequent investments, as well as feedback from internal and external stakeholders who used the new application.

We are happy to have brought to the Foundation a methodological approach made of complete and transparent collaboration, managing to bring cutting-edge technologies to the market and having created the foundations for a technological evolution in line with the times.
Laura Caserta

Laura Caserta


SparkFabrik's way of working has introduced us to a completely new method for us, the Agile method. We had to adapt to this working methodology and it was partly challenging but certainly effective on the flow of activities.

It focused and channeled the efforts and made the operational comparison profitable because it completely minimized the inefficiencies.

Furthermore, we always kept in mind the progress of the work, which turned out to be extremely rapid, especially in comparison with our previous experiences.
Marco Montesanto

Marco Montesanto


The in-depth technical knowledge of Drupal was the reason why we chose SparkFabrik, together with the possibility of using the new Agile methodologies to manage the project development and execution activities; this has allowed us to support a continuous functional evolution with a reduced effort, compared to the adoption of the classic waterfall implementation models, simplifying the entire software life cycle and allowing continuous incremental releases with a series of time-boxed iterations.

Thanks to the continuos integration and continuos delivery method, it was possible to effectively manage both the merging phase of the various codebases entrusted to the developers, and the subsequent distribution of the code from the stage environment to production.

In addition the decision to use the microservices architectural pattern has allowed us to have a streamlined and above all scalable application capable of withstanding the heavy loads of the TV marathon both in terms of availability and performance.

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