Human-Centered Design Toolkit

A free innovation guide for social enterprises and NGOs worldwide

For years, businesses have used human-centered design to develop innovative solutions. Why not apply the same approach to overcome challenges in the nonprofit world?

This project, funded by International Development Enterprise (IDE) as part of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sought to provide NGOs and social enterprises with the tools to do just that. IDEO, in collaboration with nonprofit groups ICRW and Heifer International, developed the HCD Toolkit to help international staff and volunteers understand a community’s needs in new ways, find innovative solutions to meet those needs, and deliver solutions with financial sustainability in mind.

The HCD Toolkit was designed specifically for NGOs and social enterprises that work with impoverished communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The free kit, available for download here, walks users through the human-centered design process and supports them in activities such as building listening skills, running workshops, and implementing ideas. The process has led to innovations such as the HeartStart defibrillator, CleanWell natural antibacterial products, and the Blood Donor System for the Red Cross—all of which have enhanced the lives of millions of people.

The HCD toolkit has been used by organizations throughout the developing world, including Acumen Fund, AyurVAID, Heifer International, ICRW, IDE, Micro Drip, and VisionSpring.

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Project date: 2009


Download the HCD Toolkit

The HCD Toolkit has been downloaded more than 105,000 times. Download your own free copy by joining HCD Connect here.

An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
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An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
HCD Connect: an online platform for HCD Toolkit users
HCD Connect: an online platform for HCD Toolkit users
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
Using the HCD Field Guide with teachers and students.
Using the HCD Field Guide with teachers and students.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.
An open-source toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world.


Purchase + Connect

Purchase a hard copy of the toolkit on books.ideo.com. All profits from the sale of the HCD Toolkit support IDEO.org.
Join HCD Connect: an online platform for people who are taking a human-centered approach to poverty-related challenges around the world.