The 4STPF Innovation


To future-proof the social service sector with impactful and sustainable solutions.

Innovation is vital for equipping the social service sector with the agility and responsiveness needed to effectively address emerging needs and gaps.

To provide solutions that meet the diverse and unique needs of service users in our ever-changing environment, the social service sector must continually reinvent itself. Embracing innovation allows us to stay at the forefront and deliver the best possible service to those who need it most.

NCSS is committed to driving innovation and fostering effective collaboration in the social service sector. Our Design Challenges, ethnographic research, and toolkits empower practitioners in human-centred design, promoting a culture of learning, experimentation, and innovation. We provide practitioners with the tools, resources, and platforms they need to innovate and collaborate effectively.

What is Innovation?

Constant Improvement: Innovation means continually improving solutions to meet emerging needs or transform existing services.

User-Centred: When we innovate, we put end-users at the centre of the design and delivery process, ensuring products, services, and interventions are more sustainable and effective.

Creating New Ways: Innovation creates new ways of working in the social service sector to tackle complex issues and achieve social impact.

Human-Centred Design Thinking: This is a human-centered approach to develop innovative solutions for complex social challenges. It starts with empathy, understanding the perspectives, experiences, values, hopes, and dreams of the people we're designing for.

Design thinking as a mindset guides our actions and decisions through five phases: Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. For more information, explore the Social Innovation Starter Kit.

Innovation Cycle


Three Key Questions to Innovate Better Today: Consider these three questions to design effective and innovative solutions. Start innovating today!

3 Questions - Innovation


Ready to get started?

Here are foundational tools and resources to begin:

Social Innovation Starter Kit

NCSS has developed and published a Social Innovation Starter Kit to inspire the social service sector to recognise the value of innovation in tackling complex social challenges and to embark on their own innovation journeys. The co-created starter kit includes guiding principles and mindsets of the human-centred design process, specific methods and tools, and case studies contextualised to the social service sector.

Apply for the NCSS 4ST Partnership Fund.

Ready to embark on your innovation journey? Take the first step by applying for the NCSS 4ST Partnership Fund. This fund is dedicated to mobilising the sector to create solutions that foster innovation, collaboration, and empowerment. It supports projects that address upstream support for lower-income families, support for persons with mental health conditions, and emerging needs and gaps.

If you have a project in mind, don't hesitate.
4ST Partnership Fund applications are open each year, in April and October.

Example of a programme that demonstrates Innovation, Collaboration, and Empowerment:

Integrated Service Delivery by SOS

The Integrated Service Delivery (24-hour Hotline, 24-hour CareText, and CareMail) by Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) provides a comprehensive continuum of support to persons in distress. This integrated service delivery enables SOS to better provide more timely crisis intervention and suicide prevention assistance.

Demonstration of Innovation, Collaboration, and Empowerment approaches:

  • Innovation - Addresses a service gap where youths prefer using digital tools like text-messaging to seek help, designed around user needs for accessible and convenient crisis support.

  • Collaboration - Partners with Family Service Centres (Allkin, Fei Yue, Care Corner) and hospital psychologists to strengthen support for clients once their suicide risk has de-escalated and they exit SOS' suicide counseling.

  • Empowerment - Encourages help-seeking behaviour by providing direct support or information on relevant services; involves service users to co-develop their intervention plan.

Find out more about innovation:

Learn more about collaboration and empowerment.