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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Inception Review: Lessons Learned on Innovation Acitivities of 15 Danish CSOs

In a rapidly changing global context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark ("the MFA") has entered into a Strategic Partnership with sixteen Danish civil society organisations (CSOs). These organisations can spend up to 10% on their grant on innovation during the years 2018-2021. This initiative seeks to strengthen innovative, adaptive and courageous partnerships geared to respond to current and future global challenges.

The midway mark of the funding cycle was chosen to review how the participating CSOs have worked with innovation under the Strategic Partnership. This inception review was conducted from June through August 2019 by us an external review team, Quercus Group and Dare Disrupt.

The review process has been highly interactive and has included individual interviews and workshops with the participating CSO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. The review takes stock of the lessons learned and provides recommendations for the MFA's and the CSOs' future work on civil society innovation.

Project Period: June 2019 - September 2019

Danish CSO's innovation managers listening to presentation at workshop.

Starting Point & Challenge

The ministry of foreign affairs of Denmark invited sixteen Danish civil society organizations to seek new, different and creative responses to global challenges. What does it mean to innovate in a humanitarian context and civic space? 1 -1.5 years into the funding cycle, the Inception Review sought to provide an overview and assessment of current innovation activities within sixteen Danish civil society organisations and foster and promote shared learning and knowledge-sharing across organisations.

Our approach

The review process was designed around learning and sharing. As no silver bullet to humanitarian innovation exists, the review synthesized the various approaches, what works or not, to showcase the portfolio of innovation activities. Besides a desktop research, data collection and one-to-one interviews, the opportunity for extensive exchange through workshops took the centerstage of the process.


The review concludes that the funding allocated specifically for humanitarian and civil society innovation has been crucial for the CSOs and empowered them to strengthen their internal innovation capabilities, including those amongst their local partner organisations in the South. According to the review team, these new approaches, partnerships, technologies and ways of working, represent a necessary and robust foundation for the MFA and the CSOs as they move forward with innovation work in the coming years.

Learn more

Don't hesitate to reach out to Nicolai, Thyge, or Wadim, who were part of the review team, if you have any questions.