Predictably irrational: Behavioural economics and fundraising

In this session we will explore the way in which the latest thinking in behavioural economics and decision science will change how you think about donors and the way in which they engage with your cause. The session will draw on original research by =mc and the work of Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. We will share practical examples of how agencies from UNICEF to Greenpeace and from SOS Children’s Villages to the US Olympics team are using decision science techniques to improve their fundraising results.

Specifically, we will explore:

  • What behavioural economics is and what it tells us about how we make decisions
  • Why we all are predictably irrational – and what that means for fundraising
  • How companies use behavioural economics to persuade us – and what we can learn
  • The key rules and heuristics that change our attitudes and behaviour unconsciously
  • How you can change supporters’ behaviour without changing their minds.

Learning outcomes

  • How to frame decisions effectively for supporters
  • Understand the key heuristics
  • Appreciate the difference of system 1 and 2

Who should attend: A range of professionals

Session style: Interactive activities, chances to apply the learning to your own work, and a chance for questions


Bernard Ross
Director, =mc consulting
Meredith Niles
Trustee, The Trust for London