“Make expense reporting easy and convenient while shortening reimbursement times.”

At a glance

  • Who: Samaritan’s Purse International Relief  
  • What: Reimburse for Nonprofits iOS App  
  • Why: People hated filling out expense reports and processing them was painful  
  • Outcome: Learned how people thought about expense reporting and developed an app that was intuitive and convenient to use


Samaritan's Purse International Relief operates around the world in some of the most difficult conditions. They needed a way for people to easily, and compliantly, submit expense reports to keep relief efforts going.


Replace paper forms and manual processes. Couldn't we let people submit reports from their phones? Let’s utilize automation to reduce errors and processing time. And why not ensure the highest levels of compliance along the way?


When you're setting up emergency shelters for earthquake victims in Tibet, or hurricane victims in Haiti, the last thing you're thinking about is saving the stuff you need to fill out an expense report.

Even if you do, it might be days or weeks before the internet is restored, or you can get to a connection. 

The app would also have to be simple and intuitive. Sometimes people would need to download it in route to an emergency response and have no prior training!


  • Works on issued iOS devices
  • Everything stored on the device so that reports can be submitted later — i.e. when the internet is available
  • Integrates with business systems
  • Configureable for various legal regulations


Interviews! From field staff and volunteers to finance. I learned a lot about accounting and law. And I spent a lot of time talking to people to find out what everyone's pain-points were and what could make their lives better!

I asked people to describe their conceptualization of expense reporting because I wanted to see how people naturally thought aobut the process.

I'd also spent time in the field, so I had first-hand experience creating and submitting expense reports myself.  

Design Journey

Having a clear understanding of the project objectives, I began coordinating on itnital designs with Engineers and the broader cross-functional team.

With some preliminary sketches and lo-fi prototypes, I was able to gain feedback from the team and app constituents.

My methodology centered around a highly iterative processes (Agile design). This allowed the project to progress at a high velocity.

Having harmony between design and development is the jam! My goal was for there to be a zero gap understanding between the design and the build.


User testing was conducted at intervals during and after initial release. Internal (organizational) user feedback, plus feedback from the wild, was combined to identify common issues.

We could deploy various test releases to individuals or groups we knew would be good pressure tests for fixes and new features.

Over time, some themes started to develop that led to a 2.0 revision. Among them was the need to support users that belonged to more than one division within a company.

We also found that it was easier for users to think about expense reporting from the perspective of a report, instead of an expense! This was actually good news because it allowed further simplification of the UI and flows.


I know a lot of praise the app received was simply because it was so much better than the janky paper-based process. But I also believe it was successful on its own merits. It did its job reliably and painlessly.

Users were able to follow intuitive flows and submit reports that were timely and which contained the items — like attached images of receipts — required for processing.

Submitted reports were now compliant and had outstanding acceptance metrics. Administrators also reported greatly reduced processing and reimbursement times!

Looking Ahead

After the success of the 2.0 release, work began on another major release. However, the organization began looking into another enterprise finance platform that came with its own mobile expense reporting function. So the project stalled and became strictly maintenance only. All good things...