Global Impact on Equine Welfare with Continuing Digital Transformation and Drupal 10

About the Client

Starting their journey to help donkeys in the 1960s, The Donkey Sanctuary has since become one of the biggest equine charities in the world, working for over 50 years to transform the lives of donkeys across the globe. 

Their dedication and passion for donkeys continue to drive them; their vision is to live in a world where every donkey benefits from a good quality of life. In 2022, the charity reached over 30,000 donkeys and 17,000 people, with continuing projects at the time continuing to reach a further 13,000 donkeys and mules.

Business Challenge

Throughout our time collaborating with The Donkey Sanctuary, we have navigated through multiple business challenges, striving to deliver a fully functional and impressive website experience for their users.

The most recent vital challenges that the business has wanted to address are:

  • Increasing the charity revenue through the retail shop, donations and adoptions
  • Allowing online purchases to be made onsite and at all locations in the UK and Ireland

The retail shop revenue was four times lower than donations and adoptions, prompting The Donkey Sanctuary to consider implementing a new online retail shop and introducing new onsite POS systems for their physical sites in a bid to boost revenue.

Coinciding with the Adobe Commerce retail shop build, other substantial projects were taking place to continue to address the concern of increasing revenue. A new Drupal 10 rebuild would address security concerns and allow the retail site to integrate seamlessly. Additionally, a UX project was undertaken to enhance the user experience for visitors to The Donkey Sanctuary website.

Before the Drupal Build

The Donkey Sanctuary has been a valued client for over 15 years, primarily working with our hosting, support and development teams. While our recent efforts have centred on a Drupal 10 rebuild, our partnership extends back to their earlier Drupal 5 and 6 websites.

Our longstanding partnership has seen multiple projects, including rebuilding the website in Drupal 9.

Our hosting and support team has provided The Donkey Sanctuary with a mix of critical, reactive support and continual enhancement over the years to ensure the seamless operation of the website, monitoring and addressing any issues or bugs promptly and planning strategic decisions to enhance The Donkey Sanctuary's online presence.

Technical Planning and Discovery

Like all of our Drupal builds, the first step involved technical planning and discovery to understand the existing and new technical requirements for the new website build. 

This phase was designed to complement the UX and Strategy discovery work and the Adobe Commerce retail shop project. The objective was to guarantee that the technical requirements were met across all components of the projects. 

Immersion and Requirement Gathering

Our team undertook a highly detailed gathering. This included:

  • Internal review of the existing documentation produced from the UX Project by the Drupal build team.
  • A detailed review of the current UK, Ireland and European websites to capture requirements, including public-facing and administration interfaces and Drupal Commerce concerning Donation and Adoptions.
  • An online Drupal workshop to understand the potential future requirements to be factored into the technical architecture. A review of the Adobe Magento requirements was also taken into consideration.
  • A combined Drupal and Adobe Commerce workshop to understand The Donkey Sanctuary's plans for their new CMS system and any possible future planned integrations that may be linked to the Drupal website. This step was designed to ensure the website architecture is ready for future expansions and integrations.

Desk analysis of the requirements to ensure sufficiency documented, initial prioritisation of requirements and sessions to review with The Donkey Sanctuary team.

Technical Discovery

In this stage, we needed access to systems and desk-based review. This enabled us to understand the current architecture and allowed us to raise questions and clarify anything prior to a technical workshop. 

Our team then organised a technical online workshop tailored to gather further context and answer outstanding questions from the systems review. Based on the findings, we meticulously crafted a technical architecture map, documenting our findings in detail.

Proposed Technical Architecture

We presented a diagram showing the proposed technical architecture based on the review of the current technical setup, understanding of existing business processes and requirements, and insights gained from future visioning exercises. 

Sharing this technical architecture with The Donkey Sanctuary, we provided a detailed walkthrough of the proposed approach to ensure it aligned with their needs. A collection of assets was also shared with the client designed to help with the technical planning of the website build.

Drupal Build

Following the successful discovery stage, we began work on the Drupal build. As this is an ongoing project, with the launch of the new site set for later this year, the work has been split into two phases, the first complete and the second ongoing.  

Drupal Build Part 1: D10 Commerce, API Integration and Back-End Development

The first phase focused on initiating back-end development, prioritising elements independent of the other coinciding projects. This strategic approach allowed the project to progress to the next development phase as other projects concluded or reached stages where a Drupal integration would be possible. 

In this first phase, we concentrated on the back end of the new website, including establishing a Drupal 10 based site installation, configuring fundamental core modules, developing a new theme, and preparing basic configuration and synchronisation processes.

Drupal Build Build Part 2: Site Set Up, Content, Front End and Multi-Lingual 

Given their mission to help donkeys worldwide, The Donkey Sanctuary wanted to introduce multi-language capabilities. We updated the site to support i18n, enabling seamless translation functionality. Beginning with the Cyprus website, we introduced language options and implemented a user-friendly language picker for effortless switching between languages. Moving forward, we extended multi-lingual support to two additional sites: Italy and Spain.

During this phase, we have begun to set up and configure the new Drupal 10 site, applying customised theming and text styles to bring the website to life. Introducing various components, including a 'featured card' display mode showing one featured item and then up to 6 smaller teasers. As well as complex components comprising of background images overlaid with text or button content and incorporated functionality allowing for overhanging donkey ears on background image content components.

Furthermore, to complement the other projects, we will integrate a shop product listing component, enabling the display of product teasers from the Adobe Commerce website in a visually engaging carousel format.

Hosting and Support

For more than a decade, The Donkey Sanctuary has entrusted us with their hosting and support needs. Under their current contract, we provide both critical and reactive support. 

Our critical support ensures the continuous operation of their website by proactively monitoring and maintaining it. Regular updates, security patches, and maintenance tasks keep the website functional and secure.

Our reactive support addresses any day-to-day issues that may arise for The Donkey Sanctuary. This could include addressing enquiries or faults noticed by the client or implementing configuration changes and minor code adjustments as needed.

Quality Assurance (QA) Testing

All of our projects undergo rigorous testing through the software development process. In order to deliver the utmost quality for clients and their respective uses, our in-house QA team ensures that all end products perform accurately and reliably under normal and abnormal conditions. Testing is followed by continual monitoring of software performance to prevent the reoccurrence of any issues and to ensure efficient ongoing operation.
As such, we were able to confidently deliver a well-designed, scalable and technically stable result.


While the Drupal 10 rebuild is still in progress, we eagerly anticipate the launch expected in the upcoming months.

In the meantime, we remain committed to providing uninterrupted hosting and support services for The Donkey Sanctuary's Drupal website, ensuring its seamless functionality as we prepare to retire the current website and transition to Drupal 10. 

Our long and successful partnership with The Donkey Sanctuary has been made possible with our regular communication with the organisation to ensure we continue to elevate and refine their Drupal website. Our digital expertise and commitment to drive their mission forward have led to a strong and secure partnership. We strive for digital excellence for the brand so they can boost their donations and adoptions and help Donkeys worldwide.