Design thinking bootcamp Case Study

Transforming Nonprofit Strategies: Design Thinking in Action


Human-Centered Design (HCD) is an approach to problem solving and design that focuses on identifying and addressing the needs of the end user or participant. By incorporating multiple rounds of collaboration and feedback from impacted community members, we can ensure that our final product or program is effective in meeting their actual needs and creating actual, sustainable value.

Incorporating HCD is crucial for nonprofits to create impactful change in their communities; otherwise, they risk addressing surface-level challenges while missing the root cause. Design Thinking is a specific approach that provides a structural framework for incorporating human-centered design into problem solving, and is especially helpful to nonprofits who often have to navigate complex social, cultural, and environmental factors as part of their programming.


For years, Venture 2 Impact (V2I) has been leveraging HCD and Design Thinking techniques to tackle complex challenges effectively. However, we noticed that many nonprofits struggle to access and apply these methodologies due to several barriers:


Funded by the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC) as part of International Development Week 2024, V2I launched a one-day, in-person Design Thinking Bootcamp tailored specifically for nonprofits. The initiative aimed to address the significant barriers nonprofits face in utilizing Design Thinking techniques. These include accessibility and cost issues, as existing training and tools are often geared towards corporate or tech-focused audiences, making them financially impractical for nonprofits. 

The bootcamp engaged 16 participants from 14 nonprofit organizations across the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), including The North Grove, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, and Visual Arts Nova Scotia, who represented a diverse array of backgrounds and gender identities. The bootcamp systematically guided participants through crucial Design Thinking phases, ensuring clarity on objectives and providing activities customized to address nonprofit challenges:


Activities were designed to simulate real-world scenarios, fostering practical skills and promoting collaboration among participants. This focused approach aimed to empower nonprofits with actionable tools, skills, and strategies tailored to effectively tackle their unique challenges within the realm of international development.

The Impact

The V2I Design Thinking Bootcamp for Nonprofits yielded significant positive outcomes:

What's Next

3 months after our bootcamp, we followed up with Therese Cruz, the Director of Visual Arts Nova Scotia (VANS) to learn more about how the bootcamp had impacted her organization’s goals to create opportunities for rural artists in Nova Scotia.

“We were able to really identify our user persona; that really helps us to understand what they need from us as an organization,” Therese said, adding that since the bootcamp, “I’ve been actively visiting key partners that we’ve had in different rural communities, creating partnerships with art societies and councils that we haven’t worked with before, which has been working out great.”

Not only did the bootcamp provide clarity on how to advance the goals of VANS, but it provided Therese and her team with a new perspective and mindset for approaching challenges. “The relabelling of approaching challenges as opportunities is a big one … seeing things from a different angle.” 

Therese believes that the design thinking knowledge gained through this bootcamp will empower the VANS team to strengthen their services and programming to reach more underserved artists and provide human-centered support and assistance to those who need it most.

Participant Feedback

Partnership Origins

V2I has a longstanding partnership with the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC), collaborating to empower nonprofits through innovative approaches. This case study highlights one such initiative—a Design Thinking Bootcamp funded by ACIC as part of International Development Week 2024. This annual event celebrates Canada’s contributions to international development and showcases initiatives that foster global solidarity and sustainable development practices. The bootcamp aimed to equip nonprofit leaders with practical Design Thinking skills, enabling them to tackle complex challenges and amplify their impact within their communities and beyond.


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