Human-centered design is on the rise within the social sector. Governments, nonprofits, and social enterprises are increasingly generating products, systems, and processes that put the people primarily affected by a problem at the center of their design process. Called “design thinking,” this methodology enables the sector to tackle complex social problems and design innovative responses and solutions that better reflect the lived experience of a community.
The philanthropic sector can also apply design thinking to create grantmaking and capacity development experiences that more intentionally, authentically, and creatively meet the needs of nonprofit organizations. Starting from a place of empathy – the first step of design thinking – foundations can explore opportunities for more partner-centered grantmaking. As philanthropy continues to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sector and shift power in grantmaking, design thinking is another tool in funders’ toolbox for social change.