Developing the DIY Toolkit for Social Impact

We are very happy to have worked with our Indian REACH partner Quicksand, Nesta (UK’s Innovation foundation), and the Rockefeller foundation on the DIY Toolkit for social impact. The aim of the toolkit is to support and increase the innovation capacity of international development practitioners. The project was initiated as a result of a comprehensive landscape study conducted by Nesta that showed that while there were many effective tools available out there, there was a gap when it came to tools being used in international development work.

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Many practitioners do not identify with ‘innovation’ or ‘design’ and therefore do not make use of tools available in those fields. At the same time, they did express a clear need for a trusted and proven set of essentials tools that not only are effective but also inspire and practically support the practitioners in relevant stages along their innovation journey. Looking at this challenge, we are working with our partners to create a toolkit that is very human-centered, solution-driven, and collaborative in its approach i.e. curated from the perspective of the practitioners.

The toolkit pulls together some of the best-in-practice tried and tested tools and orient them in the specific coherent context of International Development in a consolidated and inspiring narrative – enabling busy practitioners to find the right tools at the right moment for them. Contextualised with case studies and guidelines for usage, the tools give both field and training practitioners the flexibility to adapt and apply these to a range of contexts.

Launched under a Creative Commons Licence, the toolkit has been published be in the form of a freely accessible online platform and a limited edition of printed books. The online platform and book also offer a repository of case studies on the use of the tool in a variety of contexts that are constantly being built up and curated – making the tools relevant in different scenarios.

The overall development of the toolkit was divided in 3 key phases, with the toolkit becoming more and more concrete as it evolved iteratively through each phase while the core editorial and design work by STBY and Quicksand was done in two locations (London and New Delhi), we opened up an initial co-design stage and the subsequent user testing across a wider range of partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America. STBY and Quicksand were in constant, direct contact with each other and opening this process up to the client team meant creating an open yet structured agile collaboration between the three partners.

The co-design process in the 1st phase, resulted in an early prototype toolkit version. The second phase of user testing, saw the enhanced prototype of the toolkit tested via a bespoke online platform with practitioners and organisations in various fields (education, health, financial inclusion, microfinance, rights & advocacy etc.) and locations across the Global South (Asia, Africa, Latin America) as it iteratively evolved into the 3rd phase of final product design. The direct engagement with practitioners during the development phase of the toolkit was an important step to ensure a greater uptake of the tools by individuals and organisations within the field.

Along with the toolkit, we produced 30 tutorial videos to show practical examples of how tools can be used.

Update since the launch: Within month the DIY Toolkit website had been viewed over 300,000 times in over 165 countries, with a Mandarin edition of the toolkit being launched  in partnership with UNDP in Beijing and other translations already in progress.