Some of my favorite tools are in that category because of their flexibility. I love the app-to-app integration of Android, the varied collection of pockets in my Timbuk2 bag, and never go anywhere without my Swiss Army Knife (the classic flexible tool).

Some people wrongly see UserVoice as a tool with one single application: seeing which ideas get the most votes via an unchangeable forum page. Today we’ll be looking at a great example of how you can customize forum functionality via your own CSS: Ideas4Oregon – The Million Dollar Idea.


Ideas4Oregon is a simple idea. Created by the Meyer Memorial Trust (MMT), a foundation that provides “grants and program-related investments to nonprofit organizations that deliver significant social benefit in and serve Oregon and Clark County, Washington”, Ideas4Oregon is seeking the best ideas for helping address Oregon’s most pressing issues – which they’ll then invest up to one million dollars in.

Inspired by Community

MMT serves its community, so creating the Ideas4Oregon UserVoice forum was natural for them, said Marie Deatherage, Director of Communications & Learning at MMT.

“When Meyer Memorial Trust was reaching the $500 million level in grants awarded, our CEO Doug Stamm asked for ideas from staff about how best we could mark the occasion. A staff member suggested a project like this. By doing this, we acknowledge reaching $500 million, but make clear our focus now is kicking off the next $500 million in a special way.”

This is a perfect embodiment of the dual benefits of crowdsourcing: getting fantastic, unexpected ideas and clearly communicating that you are listening to your community. And it worked out – more than 100 ideas came in during the first 48 hours.

Using Custom Design to Create a Unique, No-Votes Forum

That said, not every organization is in a position to act on the highest-voted ideas that sit at the top of most UserVoice forums. MMT is one of those organizations – with up to one million dollars at stake, they wanted to make sure that the winning idea had been carefully vetted.

There’s very little limit to the power of the Custom Design option we provide on our Gold plan and MMT made the most of this. Instead of allowing and showing votes, MMT focused singularly on idea creation and discussion by hiding votes and the ability to vote:


“[We] didn’t want this to become a popularity contest as much as a brilliant idea-generating exercise. In the end, Meyer Memorial Trust has to make decisions that reflect its mission and values, having performed due diligence on organizations applying for our funds.”

While most UserVoice customers use the voting system to find the most popular ideas, the monetary reward of Ideas4Oregon required a more moderated system. Luckily, this is relatively easy to do with a UserVoice Gold Account: “At first, we thought the decision not to allow voting would keep us from using UserVoice. In the end, we were very happy when our geeky web folks figured out how to hide voting so we could use this very powerful and easy tool!”

Continuing to Adapt

MMT isn’t just sitting back and watching the votes roll in – they continue to adapt the UserVoice platform to their changing needs. By the end of the week they plan to have taken advantage of the Categories feature to organize the many ideas flowing in from inspired, excited Oregonians.

MMT looked (and continues to look) at their goals and took advantage of the flexibility of UserVoice to build an experience that specifically addressed these needs.

Looking forward to seeing what gets the million!

Have your own success story or want to point out a company that is doing an awesome job with their UserVoice forum? Drop me a line at the email address below!