BT MyDonate

Nudging people to give with behavioural insights

the brief.

In the UK, giving to charity is a popular and respected gesture, and many online platforms have recently emerged to facilitate that generosity. When British Telecommunications found that its commission-free online fundraising service, MyDonate, was being passed over in favour of paid platforms, they wanted to know how to improve their service. Why were people opting to pay more? What factors were dissuading donors, and how could MyDonate adapt to encourage more donations?


our approach.

To answer this, we took a cross-disciplinary approach, pulling in principles and tools from behavioural economics to help guide our service design. The well known principle of ‘anchoring’, for example, helped us determine an effective starting amount to display on the fundraising page, nudging users to give just a little extra. We studied how these kind of nudges could be used to increase donations, attract more users, improve retention and reduce customer support needed.

Exploratory research with donors, fundraisers and charity employees led us to five design principles that guided us through our process:

Our key goals were to increase the number and value of donations through the website. After observing customers and listening to support centre calls, we believed many frustrations could be resolved by simplifying the user interface. We stripped away irrelevant content and analysed user data to create personalised landing content for the user. This page had one clear ‘call to action’ and created an ‘invisible’ sign up process to encourage users to log in. Our hypothesis was that these changes would minimise users’ impatience and frustration, which would improve customer retention and free up resources by reducing the number of calls to the support centre.

Design concepts for the new MyDonate experience.

the results.

When we tested this hypothesis, the effect of the new designs was clearly positive. These simple changes had great effect on user retention, as people were no longer opting out of the experience due to confusion. When it came to donation quantity and value, however, these simple usability hacks did not have the big effect we had hoped for. The real focus needed to be on timing, community and reputation.

We learned that people who saw a photo of their chosen fundraiser while deciding on the amount of contribution, for example, were more likely to follow through with the process, and actually ended up donating more. When we tested a feature that encouraged donors to write personal messages to recipients, people said they felt a stronger bond to the fundraiser. We also introduced other features such as the timeline, to strengthen the community of donors, fundraisers and charities.

Design concepts for charities and fundraisers.

In this project, we gained deep empathy with users by applying behavioural economics techniques. Our designs are under development to be implemented, after which we plan to measure the longer term effects of our design decisions. By understanding the irrational rationales behind people’s actions, we were able to give MyDonate the confidence to make radical changes to the donation platform.

Ben Logan - Director

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