The act of design devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” (Herbert Simon, 1988)

By Jean-Louis Ecochard, The Center for the Digital Nonprofit, NetHope

Let’s imagine a better world. One where we solve humanitarian challenges faster, and where nonprofit staff no longer have to toil so hard to achieve great results.

Working harder and harder every day has been the recipe to do more good since charities started. But in the 21st century, there is an alternative. However, to discover these additional ways of working requires us to pause for a few days, and collaborate with unlikely partners.

This is what the new IDEA (Imagine, Design, Execute, Assess) program offers. IDEA is a broad umbrella for digital transformation processes offered to NetHope members through The Center for the Digital Nonprofit. It leverages modern practices such as design thinking, to unlock innovation and amplify results.

IDEA starts with re-imagining nonprofit mission elements, in order to achieve exponentially greater impact (e.g., 10x). Through empathy and human-centered design, IDEA begins by quickly guiding leaders into new ways of thinking that lead to innovation. Breakthrough is achieved by using design thinking techniques such as the ones in the Quick Intro to Sector Design Thinking, and by bringing together people who might not otherwise meet.

At the NetHope Summit, more than 20 nonprofit executives of diverse backgrounds learned about design thinking by re-imagining beneficiary feedback. Members of NetHope, led by the team at Accenture The Docks in Dublin, engaged, co-created, brainstormed, and innovated. A description of the workshop and its result is here for everyone to start from and continue forward.

IDEA helps nonprofits create solutions faster than before with less effort. In the past 9 months, five organisations have already started their IDEA journey through a Microsoft-sponsored program called Dream, Design, Deliver (D3). “For HIAS, D3 is not just about using technology. It is about a cultural transformation of our organization, it is about building a platform so that we all work, and work together, more effectively to carry out our mission of welcoming and protecting refugees,” said Mark Hetfield, CEO of HIAS.

IDEA is not only designed to accelerate nonprofits but also to openly share results with the whole sector, with the hope to achieve network effects of change. We hope that you will use design thinking and find the tools of the Center useful to get started in your own IDEA journeys.

For more on IDEA, design thinking for the social sector or Dream, Design, Deliver, contact Jean-Louis Ecochard  at the Center for the Digital Nonprofit.

Read more about other Dream sessions:


Filed Under: Collaboration, Digital nonprofit, Global Summits, information, Organizational Capacity, Sector-Wide Change, Social and Behavior Change Communication, The Center for the Digital Nonprofit, Thought Leadership, Toolkits and Resources