Learning modules: Design Thinking for Nonprofits


5 video modules | 1 hour per module | Downloadable templates

Design thinking – with its various methodologies and mindsets – underpins much of the work we do at Shift with partners across the nonprofit and social impact sectors. Developed as part of Beyond with experts in our extended Shift family, here we share five online learning modules which introduce the fundamentals of design thinking, and how they can help you quickly find, prioritise and test new solutions to tricky problems. Through these modules, you’ll learn how to:

  • Understand the changing needs of your communities
  • Test ideas quickly
  • Build buy-in for adapting
  • Plan what to do next when there’s lots to do

These modules are ideal for people in charge of service delivery and improvements within nonprofits and social purpose organisations. Let us know what you think by getting in touch on hello@shiftdesign.org.


1. How “design thinking” can help your organisation adapt in times of crisis

An introduction to design thinking and how it can help your organisation adapt during times of crisis. Explore how this approach can help you quickly get unblocked, de-tangle complexity and prioritise your options to make progress during a crisis. Led by design strategist Tayo Medupin.

Watch and you’ll learn

  • What design thinking is
  • How design thinking can help your organisation quickly respond and adapt to the needs of the people you work with and support
  • About the mindsets and methods of design thinking (which introduces the other five trainings available in this course)

Download the slides


2. Understand people’s changing needs in times of uncertainty

The ins and outs of research to help uncover the needs and contexts of the people you support. Look at what research methods work best during a crisis and how to make sure you use them in fair and ethical ways. Led by researcher and designer Fan Sissoko.

Watch and you’ll learn

  • What is “design research”?
  • How to frame research questions and choose appropriate research methods
  • Simple research techniques to help discover the priorities and urgent needs of people you’re serving

Download the slides | Download the templates


3. Turn data and insight into actionable ideas for adapting to crisis

An inside look at how to flip research and insights into opportunities and ideas. Learn about which set of tools that can be applied, individually or in sequence, by even the smallest teams to gain valuable insights, especially during a crisis. Led by design strategist Tayo Medupin.

Watch and you’ll learn

  • How to make sense of research
  • How to turn research insights into actionable insights and ideas
  • Which ideas to prioritise and test first to help your organisation adapt and respond in times of crisis

Download the slides | Download the templates


4. Rapidly test ways to adapt your services in fast-changing times

A “how to” on making prototypes and running experiments to learn quickly and help save time and money. Led by Shift’s Louise Cooper.

Watch and you’ll learn

  • How running rapid experiments using prototypes can help your organisation learn quickly and adapt during times of crisis
  • How to identify your riskiest assumptions and forming hypotheses to frame experiments
  • How you can practice making simple prototypes

Download the slides | Download the templates


5. Create effective roadmaps to adapt your services

Practical methods and templates you can use to plan your next steps in adapting your offer. You’ll be guided through how user journey and prioritisation maps can help you reduce risk and learn what will work best as you approach a ‘launch’. Led by Rebecca Birch from Enrol Yourself.

Watch and you’ll learn

  • What to do first when there’s lots to do
  • About creating design and delivery roadmaps
  • How to write clear briefs and plans to get things done, one-by-one

Download the slides | Download the templates