About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

DIY is one: reflecting on our first year

Earlier this month the DIY Toolkit celebrated its first birthday. To mark the occasion we’ve designed an infographic to reflect on the impact that the toolkit has had so far, and look forward to the next phase of the initiative.


A good year

On March 3rd the DIY toolkit celebrated its first anniversary. In just 12 months we are delighted to have had 350,000 hits and 40,000 downloads from people in over 200 countries and territories (we’d love to hear from the person using the DIY toolkit in Reunion if you are reading this).

To get a sense of how good these stats are, we asked our friends at IDEO about the spread of their HCD toolkit, which we’ve always looked to as a benchmark of impact. Since its launch in 2011 HCD has been downloaded 141,000 times from people in 202 countries. So we’ve got a long way to go to get to that level, but we’re confident we’ll be there in another three years.

A toast

To celebrate, we surveyed our users to understand more about who they are and what difference the toolkit has made for them. 100 per cent of respondents to our questionnaire felt that they are now more effective in their work as a result of using DIY. We asked them how and why, and this is a snapshot of what they told us:

“The toolkit is very practical, step by step, it makes using the methods easy to understand.”

“It really helped to think and act in non-standard methods and modalities.”

“DIY has opened my mind to new ideas and awareness of what others are using.”

“This is a brilliant resource. I have taken multiple human centered design courses and to have all these techniques curated in one place is fantastic.”

“The best thing is that it saves time and adds credibility to my work.”


We have done a number of things that have contributed to the traction that the toolkit has received:

  1. A large part of the toolkit’s reach is thanks to our valuable supporter network. We have assembled this network to spread and share the toolkit among multiple and varied communities of practitioners. Brenton Caffin, the Nesta Innovation Skills director, reflected on the importance of these collaborations soon after the launch. That network has now grown to 22 global organisations, with more to follow.

  2. This visibility has helped to integrate the toolkit into high profile international development initiatives, where it is used as a key innovation learning resource. DIY’s tools and methods now support projects with Making All Voices Count, Global Giving, Plus Acumen, British Council, UNDP, Mara Foundation, Ashoka challenge prizes, Oxfam and the Humanitarian Innovation Fund. This helps enormously with the toolkit’s reach and credibility.

  3. Last year we went on the road to deliver multiple workshops. These included with UNDP in Montenegro, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia and Jordan, with DfID India in Delhi, and with the British Council in Turkey. We also know that the toolkit has supported many other workshops around the world. This experience has helped us to continue to test the tools, refine our delivery method and, crucially, give people the confidence that these innovation tools can be applied in development situations.

So what’s next?

Firstly, we’ve sought to enhance the toolkit’s relevance and usability. We are very close to launching interactive functionality with Canvanizer (which means that users will be able to complete and edit the tool templates online), and will have translated into five core languages by the spring - Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, French and Russian.

To create the long term change that we want to see (and reach the level of the HCD toolkit), we have always known that we need to go beyond tools and templates. Our early hunch was that by providing meaningful online learning experiences, we could build innovation capability in more people around the world.

To that end, we’re planning an ambitious project to transform the toolkit into a digital learning programme that wraps curriculum around the content. We’re in the throes of a big piece of user research to understand user demand; what works, what doesn’t, and what our users would like to see more of. The survey threw up supporting evidence that we should follow our hunch:

  • Over 50 per cent of respondents requested more guidance from us on practical application and facilitation support to put the tools to use.

  • [More importantly] over 95 per cent of respondents expressed demand for a digital learning strategy based on the toolkit.

We are developing this next phase of the project in earnest, so watch this space.

In the meantime, if you are using the toolkit we want to continue gathering and sharing stories of how these tools are being applied in practice. We know that people learn best when they can see these tools being applied in contexts that are familiar to them, so please share your stories with us.


Theo Keane

Theo Keane

Theo Keane

Senior Programme Manager

Theo was a Senior Programme Manager in the Innovation Skills team, responsible for the design and delivery of innovation skills initiatives for international development and public sec…

View profile