What it Takes to Organize an IDDS

Overview of things to consider:

Recommended lead time needed to prepare

At least 12 months from first community meeting

Recommended number of dedicated local organizers leading up to the summit and at the summit

At least 3-5

Recommended total number of organizers (local and international) at the summit

Around 9 – 15 (depending on how many projects you have)

Average hours of effort per week for lead organizers

Starting at 8-10, increasing up to full time role during IDDS, and decreasing back to 8-10 for 1 month after IDDS to assist with project continuity.

Facilities needed

One large classroom with projector

Multiple group breakout rooms or meeting spaces

Organizer meeting room/headquarters

Equipment storage room


Dining facilities or kitchens

Workshop Space (depending on the type of summit)

Workshop Space

Necessary if you are prototyping. However, you may be able to use a smaller facility or “make your own.” See here for more information about the venue.

Estimated Total Cost (including organizer flights and participant scholarships)

~20,000-100,000 USD (depending on length of IDDS and number of international participants)

Post-Summit Expectations (within 1 month after the end of summit)

Submit completed summit registration list with participant and organizer information to onboard into IDIN

Submit a copy of the actual schedule

Submit completed project reports and prototype assessments for each project created at the summit

Publish 3 blog posts and submit 10-20 of the best photos from your IDDS

Document lessons learned


Before submitting a concept note to organize an IDDS, it is good to know what it takes to organize one. If you were an IDDS participant or organizer before, you know that IDDS is a very intense and potentially life-changing experience for participants, communities, and even organizers. As such, it takes a lot of time and effort to organize an IDDS. It typically takes volunteer organizers approximately one year to plan and organize all the details for a good IDDS.

For any given summit, there are four main parts an organizing team needs to consider when planning and implementing an IDDS:

  • The community engagement (who you will work with and how),
  • The curriculum and schedule (what you will do and learn),
  • The participant experience (what participants will do and learn in addition to planned activities),
  • And the operations + finance (the logistics of how it will all get done).


For more details on the timeline for preparing an IDDS, please read through the IDDS Prep Book.


Community Engagement

As you know, the main reason we organize an IDDS is to improve livelihoods for communities and catalyze local and sustainable ecosystems of innovation. Before planning the curriculum and schedule for an IDDS, it is imperative to select the community you will work with. Ideally, it will be a community you and/or your organizing team have worked with before and plan to continue working with after an IDDS. A "community" could be a particular town or village, but it could also be a particular organization (like a Waste Picker Association).

After selecting the community you will work with, you will need to visit with the community several times, to meet with key members, leaders of relevant local organizations and/or government offices, and practice your ask, observe, try skills to assess different assets and challenges within the community to determine what might be relevant project spaces for an IDDS.

It is best if you can host the summit within the community you will be working with. We recommend working with a respected local organization to help you coordinate this. In the case of a more urban summit, IDDSs typically are hosted in local venues and then make day trips to visit and work with particular organizations.

Regardless of if you are hosting in a rural or urban setting, for a truly co-creative experience we require you to select at least one to two community members for each IDDS project be to participate in the summit (ex. if you have 6 projects, you would need to select at least 6-12 community members as participants for IDDS). Ideally, some of these community members would be end-users who are experiencing the very challenges that your IDDS is designing technologies and ventures to address.


Curriculum and Schedule

Once you have met with the community and have a sense of what the relevant project spaces are, you can then begin to articulate your vision. What are the goals of your summit? All IDDSs teach participants the co-creative design cycle in a hands-on way through immersive experiences with local community members, but are you hoping the summit will address specific area of international development or a certain type of design challenge (such as health challenges, waste challenges, energy challenges, etc.)? Or are you hoping to address a variety of international development issues and design challenges? Are you hoping to start from the beginning of the design cycle or are you hoping participants will come in with products which they hope to turn into ventures? What do you envision for the outcome of your summit?

Once you can articulate what your vision and goals are, you can identify what type of lead instructors (we recommend having two) you will need - a mechanical engineer, a medical device designer, a business instructor, etc – as well as what type of design facilitators you will need for the types of projects you are working on. The lead instructors will be the people leading the planning of a curriculum of activities and lessons that will help the team accomplish those goals and the design facilitors will guide project teams through the problem identification, solution creation, and prototype building process. Read more here about all the organizing roles (including the co-lead instructor role and design facilitator roles).

Note: If you need help finding a qualified lead instructor, you can send a request to the group faculty members trained in IDDS curriculum at idds.steercom@gmail.com. Be sure to let them know what type of person you are looking for and when and where the IDDS will be.


Participant Experience

Another important component of any IDDS is the participants. The type of summit experience people have will be affected by the type of people you choose to invite to participate. At IDDS, we believe that innovation thrives at the intersections of disciplines and cultures. As much as possible, we encourage summits to accept a diversity of participants. At the same time, there is an exceedingly high number of people who wish to participate in IDDS and a good way to help narrow the applicant pool is to think about who would be key stakeholders and perspectives of the challenges your summit is facing. Therefore, though it may be a waste themed summit, we may not only want designers, engineers, and business owners of waste products, but we would also want waste pickers themselves, lead government workers who develop policies on waste, and even people who generate waste. Likewise, we encourage each summit to aim not only for diversity of professional perspectives, but also for a diversity in economic and educational background, development background, age and gender.

To ensure each person receives the personal IDDS touch from the moment applications open 9 months before the start of a summit to the moment they leave the summit, organizers are hard at work answering emails and questions for participants as they discover IDDS, raise funds, arrive, create, learn, change, depart, and continue. You will want to be sure that your team has someone to coordinate the interactions with the participants and a good method for keeping track of the communication. Read more about the Participant Experience Coordinator role here.


Operations + Finance

Underpinning all that happens at IDDS is the operations of every activity. This includes all the administrative and logistical details to make sure the summit can happen. From budgeting, reporting, and raising funds, to coordinating transportation and homestays, to ensuring meals, spaces, and materials are ready, to ensuring translators are available (if necessary) - the operations of a summit can take large amount of time and energy. It is for this reason, we recommend working with a local organization to help coordinate the above logistics and even hiring an experienced person to oversee the finances - as your resources will determine the amount of activity that you can or cannot do.


The Organizing Team and Local Organization

As you can see, organizing an IDDS is something that requires a committed and dedicated team with plenty of time available to plan and implement. It is our recommendation that IDDS organizing teams work with a local organization (university, NGO, etc.) who knows the culture and context of the area you are working in, and has the capacity to receive and manage funds and basic logistics on your behalf. At the same time, it is helpful if the majority of the organizing team has attended a summit and also if some have also been organizers before. If there are gaps in the team you can subsequently recruit a few international IDIN network members to augment the organizing roles you still need to fill. To help identify who will make up the core of your team and what positions you would want to advertise to the network at large, you can read more about IDDS organizing roles and then try filling out the organizer roles worksheet.


The Cost

The cost of an IDDS can range from ~$20,000 – 100,000 USD, depending on the length of the summit and the number of participants, organizers, and projects you have. The largest line item is usually travel expenses for international participants and organizers, which is usually around $1,800 USD per person. Other large costs include room and board, visa costs, medical expenses (such as required vaccinations or health insurance), transportation during the summit, equipment, and materials.

There are many ways to offset the costs of the summit. One is by seeking low-cost (but safe) options for housing, food, and/or the venue for the summit. A second way to lower costs is to select more regional participants. A third way is to fundraise through crowd funding as well as by partnering with existing organizations, institutions, foundations, and/or companies for sponsorship, in kind donations and other collaborations. Most past summits have been successful in partering with a local organization or univeristy to provide the housing and accomodation, requirng participants to pay a fee to offset costs, and having a few sponsorships to cover the costs of organizer flights and a few participant scholarships.


Post-Summit Expectations

It is our hope and dream that IDDS is not a stand-alone event, but a catalytic experience for local, sustainable, and innovative ecosystems. In addition to maintaining good relationships with the community and organizations you’ve worked with, the organizing team is expected to submit a few key deliverables by two weeks after the summit to ensure we can include your IDDS, participants, and organizers into the network.

By two weeks after IDDS finishes:

  • The participant experience coordinator will turn in a copy of the registration sheet to onboard all participants and organizers into IDIN
  • The co-lead instructor will turn in a copy of the actual schedule to share with other network members
  • The accountant will submit a copy of the expense report to share with other network members
  • The communications organizer will turn in a copy of 10-12 of the best photos from the summit and ensure organizers or participants have written at least 3 blog posts about the summit (one before, one during, and one reflection after).
  • Design Facilitators will help each participant team complete a project report about what was created, the status of the project, how it will continue (if at all), who the team contact is, who the main community contact is, and document what participants have learned from the design process.
  • The organizing team will create a list of lessons learned from organizing an IDDS.

The organizing team (particularly, the design facilitators) will be responsible to coordinate with local organization to help participants and communities move outputs to the next step – whether that’s in the hands of a design group, to a micro-grant application, for further prototyping with participants or communities, or researching and experimenting with different techniques abroad.


IDIN Support + Resources Available

Currently, the IDIN network can provide the following support and resources to teams looking to host a summit:

  • Curricular consultation and mentorship
  • Community engagement guidance
  • Key introductions to interested organizations working in the related project space
  • Organizer and participant recruitment assistance
  • Guiding worksheets and reference materials to help you plan your summit.
  • Monitoring and evaluation plan of learning goals.
  • Incorporation and onboarding of participants into IDIN