Decision Science Background
Decisions – big and small
The Nobel prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler showed that in fact we make these decisions using what’s called System One: our fast-moving ‘autopilot’ decision system. The complement is System Two: the slower, more rational ‘pilot’ process of weighing up options.
Kahneman’s big idea...
our behaviour is driven by two systems
How we think
How we think we think
Decision Science draws on three overlapping areas- illustrated opposite.
Much of decision science is focused around heuristics, the fast rules of thumb we have all developed to help us deal with the sheer number of decisions we have to make Some of these rules relevant to fundraising are outlined below.
ImplicationWe respond unconsciously to an initial stimulus in our subsequent choice. If someone is willing to make a gift, and you ask for a larger gift initially, then you are more likely to secure an actual gift at a higher level. The larger initial number ‘anchors’ the result.
The context or frame in which something is experienced makes a difference to the result. So you might consider framing a request for support as an investment rather than a gift. This framing might encourage some supporters to offer a gift but think of it in a different way.
By offering a ‘nudge’ to individuals you can help them make a preferred choice. Having a default option on a web donation from helps encourage people to make that gift. Puttin ga donation box in a location where it is easily seen and easy to access improves gift levels.
ImplicationWe like to see progress towards a result and to contribute to it. So showing you are close to a fundraising target will encourage others to help complete it. We also like ‘stories’ and case studies that lead to a satisfying and clear result.
ImplicationMaking something appear like the normal reaction can encourage others. In a crowd we will tend to adopt the behaviours of the majority. Showing that others are contributing to an appeal by, for example, listing their gifts on an online page helps normalise giving and the gift level .
ImplicationWe like to identify with the people we are being asked to help. And we like them to be individuals. Fundraisers can gain more support in an appeal by highlighting the situation of a specific person – help Ahmed to join the youth theatre – than by presenting a ‘crowd’ – help young people.
ImplicationWe have a greater preference for avoiding losses than to making gains. Someone who loses £100 in a transaction will experience a decrease in satisfaction greater than they will secure from a £100 gain. Visions are nice. BUT the threat of theatre closure is more likely to drive support.