Charitable giving by individuals is one of the largest drivers of social good, generally providing more funding to charities than government grants. For example, in the UK, individuals donate around 11B GBP per year to over 150,000 charities every year. In an effort to increase charitable giving, the British Behavioral Insights Team (previously part of the Cabinet) designed behavioral interventions that focused on 4 key insights: making things easy; attracting attention; focusing on the social; timing matters.
In one of their A/B tests, they showed that switching the default option for a charitable giving plan increased participation from 6% to 49% – a difference that, if applied at scale, could lead to an increase of 40M GBP in charitable giving across the 50,000 employees of the pilot study organization. The tendency to stay with the default option can be used in a wide variety of contexts, and has since also been applied to increasing donor rates, with similarly impressive outcomes.
The Behavioral Insights Team is a social purpose company jointlyy owned by the UK Government, Nesta (the innovation charity) and their employees. They were the world’s first government institution to focus on applying behavioral insights to policy and have now spun off to do a broader range of work. You can read more about their work in charitable giving here.