Designing Practical Tools for Social Innovation

Project Brief

Social innovation and design thinking have both drawn key interest from individuals and organizations looking to drive sustainable change in their development work, and to find new tools and activities to help them accomplish just that. In response to this, Nesta and the Rockefeller Foundation approached Quicksand with a project to curate a set of best-in-class tools to support and nurture innovation.


Working with STBY, partners from the Reach Network, the Quicksand team set out to research, edit, and design a toolkit incorporating:

  • Practical tools (visualisations, frameworks, blueprints etc.) for social innovation with effective supporting context;

  • Flexibility for solo or group use in the field, education and business support settings;

  • Resources must be in both print and digital format and include case studies;

  • Open source formatting to enable local adaptation and customisation;

  • A strong brand identity

This work involved a preliminary landscape study to identify the best tools, followed by a co-design activity of the initial toolkit. This prototype was then tested with social innovation practitioners for further refinement.

The project team then assimilated all research findings into the final design of the toolkit. This involved creating an online platform for sharing the tools and related instructions for use, as well as designing and printing a publication for sale.


DIY (Development Impact and You) toolkit was launched digitally in March 2014, and the website received nearly 180,000 views from 20,000 visitors across 150 countries in its very first month of launch.

The toolkit was created in the English language, but has since been translated into additional languages to increase its reach and impact.

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