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The Innovation Process
Activity 2.2 B

Organise a challenge competition

Challenges are an approach that humanitarian donors, including Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund, increasingly use for finding ideas and solutions. They also have potential uses for organisations as well as donors.

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiative was established in 2013. An initial Gap Analysis report identified a range of challenge areas in the humanitarian WASH sector suitable for innovation, based on consultation with over 1,000 WASH practitioners and people affected by crises. The HIF has since launched 12 challenges on issues ranging from handwashing to surface water draining, each explored further in an in-depth challenge briefing. The HIF has funded over 40 WASH solutions in total.


This approach will likely require your organisation to have the experience and systems for disbursing funding. It involves using your Challenge Brief to draft a call for proposals, ensuring that this includes:

  • Problem statement
  • Design criteria
  • Rules and guidelines
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Timelines and decision points
  • Due diligence procedures
  • Fund and/or support available to the winner/s

Post your call for proposals online and promote it through your networks, and if it relates to a specific context make sure that you seek ways to inform local organisations and encourage them to apply.

It may be worthwhile providing workshops for local organisations and individuals to help them understand the process and what is required, in order to best support local solutions to local problems.