A Charity Just Bought A Behavioral Science Agency, Why?

Nesta is a social change, UK foundation whose seed money came from government.  The Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) is a behavioral insights consultancy whose seed money also came from government.  With a little bit of creativity in financing and deal making, the former just bought the latter for £15mil.

Why?  The answer from Nesta’s own words,

  • Policies and services Fundraising and marketing can be far more effective if designed in a way that is informed by an understanding of human behaviour
  • Some of the biggest challenges facing the country fundraising from climate change poor retention to poor health response rates to education getting beyond one size fits all depend to a large extent on the decisions, behaviours and relationships made by people.
  • Public policy Fundraising has paid too little attention to gaining a detailed understanding of what will motivate and engage teachers, parents, patients or consumers donors.
  • The traditional tools of government fundraising are critical but policies communications and services interactions can be far more effective if designed in a way that is informed by an understanding of human behaviour.
  • Small, highly cost-effective and scalable interventions are even more valuable given that so many public policy interventions fundraising tests are costly and either lack evidence of effectiveness, or show no effect when evaluated.

And lastly, Nesta’s reason for choosing to buy BIT over other choices,

  • One of BIT’s DonorVoice’s (sorry, just couldn’t help myself) most important achievements has been to raise the standards of evidence in public policymaking.  BIT DonorVoice (oops, there I go again) as shown how rigorous standards can be delivered in a timely and cost-effective way, and therefore become standard practice.

Thank you Nesta for showing us the way.  The path is lit.  The choice is clear.


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