4 Design Thinking Facilitation Resources for Nonprofits | Beth's Blog

4 Design Thinking Facilitation Resources for Nonprofits


Almost four years ago, I wrote my experience as a participant n a design-thinking lab to give input on a digital strategy for a philanthropy. The design lab was facilitated by Pete Maher, founder of Luma Institute.  I learned so much about the taxonomy of innovation and really practical techniques, that I took the facilitation training.    I started incorporating facilitating design labs as well as the techniques into my training practice ever since.   I even facilitated design labs to help with the research for my book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit.

I admit it.  I’m a facilitation geek who has an obsession with sticky notes and magic markers and desire to incorporate creative facilitation techniques into training that I design.  I’m always looking for ways to take my practice deeper.  I also get asked about where to get facilitation training for design thinking methods.   This post summarizes a few resources.

The Big Picture:  Design Thinking in the Context of Innovation

Jeremiah Owyang has a comprehensive post cataloging different methods to use to facilitate innovation and Design Thinking is one of them.   Design Thinking is associated with IDEO and the Stanford D School, although there are many methods out there.   The design thinking methodology encourages exploration of unconventional solutions by looking at a problem from the point of view of the people being served.   The many methods of Design Thinking go through a similar path of gathering research, analyzing and identifying the right problem, developing creative ideas, and testing prototypes.  Design thinking,” according to Fast Company, “describes a repeatable process employing unique and creative techniques which yield guaranteed results — usually results that exceed initial expectations. Extraordinary results that leapfrog the expected.”

4 Design Thinking Facilitation Resources for Nonprofits and Philanthropy

The Facilitator’s Guide To Human-Centered Design for Social Impact

IDEO.org is a nonprofit design organization that launched out of IDEO with a mission to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable communities through design and offers a number of free and low cost resources.  The site has some free resources with method tips sheets.   The Facilitator’s Guide  is a free online course in collaboration with +Acumen that guides social change leaders through a design process and helps them understand different facilitation techniques.

Luma Workplace

Luma Institute offers face-to-face intensive design thinking facilitation training workshops.  I’ve had the opportunity to take these workshops a few years back and learned a lot.  While I highly recommend them, it is a commitment of time and resources.    More recently, Luma has launched an online platform called “Luma Workplace.”   It methods are based on Luma’s book and experience applying them, but are designed to be more flexible and repeatable methods to be used in the workplace.  There is a monthly subscription fee,  but you get access to step-by-methods, lesson plans, and recipes to using it in your workplace.

Mobilization Lab Campaign Accelerator

The Mobilization Lab is a global innovation lab for online social change campaigns incubated by Greenpeace.  They offer “Campaign Accelerator” training that helps nonprofits apply design thinking and collaborative creativity methods to develop ideas for effective online campaigns.    They offer face-to-face workshops  for facilitator training.   They also have free guides available that explains and help you learn how to facilitate the process.  Or you can simply access their campaign planning/design tools.

DYI Development Innovation Toolkit

I first discovered this highly useful innovation kit for development professionals that uses design thinking and other methods a few years ago.  The toolkit gives a “bird-eye’s view” of innovation that discusses the theory and management of the innovation process.  The heart and soul of the toolkit are the worksheets and processes for problem solving.     The worksheets are categorized by what the team or organization hopes to achieve.

There are also many other design-thinking resources if you want to learn more.  Here’s a good resource list from the Interaction Design Foundation.

Has your nonprofit used design-thinking methods internally?  Have you been trained to facilitate these methods?   What did you learn?

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