top of page
  • Writer's picturenovanudgeclub

Helping fundraising campaigns with BE

Art has always been a way for people to express themselves and their feelings since the beginning of times. They started out as cave paintings, and, through centuries, they evolved to abstract ones, street murals with messages and great paintings on building’s walls, until they become symbols of society. However, another thing evolved: art galleries. In 2013, there were around 15 billion paintings in the whole world. Eight years later, that number is probably way bigger.

BE contribution That's when behavioural economics steps in, as a way to provide more resources and a monetary base to sustain the art vein and cultural needs of society.

In 2017, an art gallery in Scotland made an experiment with behavioural science. Its goal was to verify whether the monetary amount and quantity of donations would increase due to distinct approaches to the philanthropists, working as voluntary price discrimination on donations.

There was a control group, to which the approaches remain unchanged, another one that faced a gain-framed situation, they were asked for a donation to make it possible for the artists to keep having an available space to show their masterpieces, and lastly, a group facing a lost-framed approach, sensitizing the donators for the possibility of ending those art exhibitions due to financial constraints.

The results of this study have shown that, for non-regular costumers of this gallery, the gain-framed approach had a greater impact leading to higher donations. Moreover, when the donators were regular consumers of those exhibitions, the lost-framed background had a more significant impact to increase the amounts donated.

Another method successfully tested to nudge for donations was to give a personalized answer to the contributors.

The fundraising team of Deutsche Bank in London had a fundraising campaign in support of Help a Capital Child and Meningitis Research UK. In this campaign, the employees were asked if they would agree in donating one day of their salary to the cause. The experience considered a control group in which the approach has remained unchanged, as well as another group that received personalized emails from the CEO, asking for the availability to contribute.

The results stated that only 5% of the control group decided to donate the one-day salary, whether 12% of those who received a customized email were willing to contribute. Outside the nudge paradigm, but still related to behavioural science, there were another two groups, one receiving some sweets when entering the company’s building, and the other with a combination of the sweets and personalized emails situation. Then it was recorded a result of 11% of donators in the sweets group, and the most outstanding outcome, 27% for the group which contemplated a combination of the two other approaches.

Home Retail Group, one of the largest retail companies in the UK, was trying to incentive charitable donations from their employees, where annually only 6% of them would contribute, due to an opt-in option. From October 2012, small changes were made to the payroll giving forms, changing the opt-in option to opt-out, leading donations to increase to 49%, a significant boost of 43 percentage points.

All of these measures, although not all directly related to art exhibitions, can be tried in the situation. And, perhaps, we can be surprised with the outcome. They all increased private donations and, that is, nowadays, one of the main focus of art galleries, as a way to increase revenues.

With covid-19 With the lockdown measures all around the world, art galleries and museums had to be closed for a long time in various countries. Due to this, some of them implemented new ideas: virtual tours throughout their sites were the most used ones, giving the opportunity to appreciate the paintings, exhibitions and collections, providing explanations, analysis and details to all those interested. Nudging in this type of situations is harder, since revenues itself are way lower, but hopefully they will all be able to open soon and keep implementing ideas.

Conclusion To sum up, increasing donations when it comes to art galleries is not easy. Nevertheless, there are some nudge practices that can be used to improve the willingness of philanthropists to help, creating distinct approaches based on the study of human behaviour, to contribute for the cultural and artistic cause.


Joana Alfaiate - Research Analyst Afonso Fortunato - Research Analyst

References Lee, Boram. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Arts and Culture? [online]. Available at:

Applying behavioural insights to charitable giving. Behavioural Insights Team, Charities Aid Foundation. [online]. Available at:

Ortolani, Giovanna. October 2018. Nudging art lovers to contribute to the cultural economy. [online]. Available at:

45 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page