Plan International is a global nonprofit organization working with communities in over 50 countries to promote children's rights. Their work is financed by sponsorships and donations, and their sponsorship program reaches out to more than 1.4 million children.

Sponsor satisfaction is key to minimize attrition. Every year, Plan sends out millions of letters to the sponsors containing photos of the sponsored children. To ensure sufficient photo quality, and that guidelines for photos are met, photos are manually screened before being sent out to sponsors. This work is both time consuming and difficult, and still does not ensure desired results as sponsor complaints are often related to poor photo quality. Plan set its sights on increasing photo quality and improving sponsor satisfaction.

Strategy and Solution

We built a prototype solution, named the Intelligent Photo Analyzer (IPA), to support Plan International with the process of verifying the quality of the photos sent to their sponsors.

The solution automates seven of the manual verification steps in the existing process at Plan International. IPA reduces time spent on the photo validation process and increases the quality of the photo/product sent to sponsors. The expected result is a reduction in the operation cost, as well as in the number of sponsor complaints related to photo quality.

IPA provides Plan with a simple interface, using the IBM Bluemix platform and Watson Visual Recognition service, to analyze photos and provide an analysis of different photo quality features.

With IPA, Plan accelerated its photo validation process while increasing the quality of the photos it sends to sponsors. Further, employees report IPA gives them confidence when validating and comparing photos, which results in faster, better decisions. Moving forward, Plan anticipates that with the new solution it will be able to minimize instances of sponsor attrition.

Key numbers




Manual verifications automated


Precision and recall


False positive rate


Prototype timeline

June 9-10, 2016

Initial creative workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark, to ideate on concept and define scope for the prototype. Attendees joined from Plan Denmark, Norway & Plan International HQ as well as IBM, Accenture Corporate Citizenship and ACIT.

June 15, 2016

Defining concepts after the initial workshop, creating and iterating paper wireframes.

June 22, 2016

Research on image analysis algorithms and development of a high fidelity prototype. Resulting in a first iteration of the Intelligent Photo Analyzer (IPA) and a front-end web-portal, ready for usability testing.

June 27, 2016

Usability testing with employees at Plan Norway to evaluate and get feedback on the application. Design & User Experience (UX) was then refined based on the problem areas observed.

July 6, 2016

Refining Design and UX based on usability testing. Implemented new intelligent photo analysis features.

July 7, 2016

Final Demo of the Intelligent Photo Analyzer. Showcasing the benefits and capabilities of the application through a visual demo portal. Defined next steps for implementing the prototype to Plan's internal systems.

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