Buy a brick

March 3 2012

Buy a brick

A couple of years ago I helped develop a fundraising application for the Child’s i Foundation, a charity and worldwide community aiming to build a home for abandoned babies in Uganda.

At the time the charity was raising money to set up a home in Kampala, so the team at Childsi came up with Buy a Brick, a web app where users donate from £2.50 to £500 to purchase a brick to build a virtual wall.

In the 2 years since it launched, the Child’s i Foundation community has bought nearly 400 bricks, raised nearly £18,000!

I implemented the backend of the application in Ruby on Rails, in particular the integration with the payment gateway for processing donations. It was the first (and only) e-commerce website that I’ve ever deployed and maintained - I learnt a lot!

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been tinkering with the application so it uses the Just Giving donations API instead of the original payment gateway. We ended up using (and patching) the Just Giving Ruby gem, so the switch over was pretty simple to implement.

What wasn’t so simple was upgrading an old, pre-Bundler Rails 2.2 application to Rails 2.3 and getting the right combination of gems versions to play together on Heroku! But I got there in the end…

The application is at and the code is all on Github: