Design for Social Impact Workbook and Toolkit for The Rockefeller Foundation

Manifesting a call to action for social impact in design

From climate change to health care systems, The Rockefeller Foundation has brokered partnerships and nurtured innovation for people across the world, with a focus on enabling individuals, institutions, and communities to build better lives and futures. Looking to send a call to action to the design industry, The Rockefeller Foundation partnered with IDEO to engage in its Initiative on Accelerating Innovation for Development, and as a pilot study for connecting design firms to the social sector.

Early in the program, IDEO discovered a complex set of challenges facing both industries: The social sector was unfamiliar with the practices and protocol of the design industry, while many design firms balance the desire to work in the social sector with the need to be profitable. To unpack and understand these challenges, IDEO participated in 143 stakeholder interviews representing different funders, implementers, thinkers, consultants, and design firms. These conversations led the team to develop nine design principles for design firms working in the social sector as well as 28 unique modes of engagement that design firms can experiment with.

The final result was the production of two books, which were launched at a symposium of design for social impact, hosted at the offices of the Rockefeller Foundation and attended by 50 people from various foundations, NGOs, consulting firms, and design firms. The main book, Design for Social Impact: A How-To Guide, summarizes the bulk of IDEO’s learnings and presents them as an invitation to the design industry to participate in the initiative. In addition to the design principles and modes of engagement developed by IDEO, the book includes case studies and prompts to inspire continued learning and involvement. The second book, Design for Social Impact: Workbook, comprises a series of worksheets grouped by goals, tools, and plans to help design firms clarify their intentions, starting point, and action items as they build a portfolio of social impact projects.

Download Design for Social Impact Guide
Download Design for Social Impact Workbook

Project date: 2008