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Site of the Month: Junk Free June 2016

This month’s ‘Site of the Month’ will give you a great way to start the year ‘Junk Free’. It is developed by SilverStripe Professional Partner, Little Giant.

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It may be a bit early to talk about June now, but this month’s ‘Site of the Month’ will give you a great way to start the year ‘Junk Free’. It is Junk Free June, developed by SilverStripe Professional Partner, Little Giant.

Backed by SilverStripe Platform, the site was able to scale easily and handle significant global traffic with ease. Junk Free June 2016 campaign was also the biggest one yet, raising over half a million dollars with more than 10,000 participants.


Junk Free June is an innovative charity concept. It’s a month-long fundraising and education platform, with three very clear objectives:

  1. Encourage people to think about what they put in their bodies and the effect this may have on their health
  2. Reduce participants' risk of developing cancer and
  3. Raise funds for The Cancer Society of New Zealand and overseas participating charities

Since Junk Free June’s inaugural year in 2015, Little Giant has led the creative, strategy, design and development of the entire Junk Free June concept including its business model, marketing and website.

Taking the form of a socially powered, content-driven and highly incentivised campaign, Junk Free June asks for participants to sign up to a month of healthy eating, with the aim of securing donations from their social networks in return for ‘unlocking’ prizes from well-known brands including HP, ECOYA and New Balance, to name a few.

Participant accounts, donations and prizes are all facilitated via the bespoke Junk Free June website.

JFJ Website HomeChallenges

The driving motivation behind the Junk Free June website was to deliver a platform that enables a community to grow – encouraging people to participate, raise money and live Junk Free.

This platform needed to be world-class and scalable for other charities participating around the world.

Outstanding features

In 2016, Junk Free June ran across two distinct geographic areas with their own requirements for privacy, information gathering and content. A SilverStripe CMS system was implemented utilizing Fluent to manage location-specific content.

Finding quickly the person you need to donate to was important. To achieve this, a Solr search index was built every 15 minutes, containing all new user accounts and presented via a ReactJS driven quick-search box on the participant’s page.

JFJ Website DonateParticipants had the ability to add their own content to the site and ‘follow’ others who were doing Junk Free June. Little Giant built a content editor on the front end using ReactJS, which allowed users to use a basic WYSIWYG editor to write posts for their followers to see. They also included support for emojis, which required changes to the default MySQL database connector in SilverStripe Framework – work which made its way back upstream as a pull request to the SilverStripe core! So thanks to Junk Free June, everyone can all enjoy emoji support in SilverStripe :)

For 2016, Junk Free June also included an iOS application to track your progress, get recipes and view others progress on the go. Built in React Native, the iOS application connected to the web infrastructure through an extensive API built into the platform.

JFJ App Design

Junk Free June was lucky to be involved in the Stripe New Zealand Beta. Stripe was used as the payment processor for all donations to great success. Using Stripe allowed Little Giant to negate the need for PCI compliance on the servers and gave them an easy, reliable system for donations. The SilverStripe team helped test this and identified a small number of edge cases, which made it easy for Little Giant to find a way to fix.

Modules used

As with all builds at Little Giant, they spent a lot of time crafting the CMS for ease of use. This included using Catalog Manager and Single Page Admin to ensure that users could see the data they needed only one click away.

As mentioned above, the fantastic Fluent module from Damian Mooyman was used for translations and localisation. Apache’s Solr was used via SilverStripe Full Text Search through multiple parts of the site as the search appliance.

Little Giant also built a few small modules, specific to Junk Free June. These included the work for emoji support (using utf8mb4), as well as some connections for Facebook logins and Instagram. Utilising SilverStripe allowed Little Giant to build these out and use them without editing the core and then contribute them back upstream, which is always a nice way to end a project. There were two or three pull requests from Little Giant team members to SilverStripe core as a direct result of work completed on Junk Free June.

Supported by SilverStripe Platform team

Junk Free June was hosted on SilverStripe Platform, which allowed Little Giant to focus on building the application, not worry about hosting, security and maintenance issues. Visitor numbers to the website and users of the mobile application fluctuated wildly during the campaign, and SilverStripe Platform allowed Little Giant to scale as needed to handle this traffic.

The SilverStripe Platform team’s 24-hour availability also meant that Little Giant didn’t need to worry about outages, as someone else had their back. As a global campaign, this reduced the risk that an outage would occur with nobody around.


2016 was Junk Free June’s biggest year yet, raising over half a million dollars for charity and engaging more than 10,000 participants globally!

About the author
Vinh Nguyen

Marketer at SilverStripe. He is the love child of Marketing and Web Technology.

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