Episode 64: Behavioral Economics Meets Social Good

July 12, 2018 Blackbaud, Inc.


You’ve probably heard the phrase “behavioral economics” before. Not only is it the subject of several best-selling books, there have also been two Nobel prizes awarded that centered on the topic of behavioral economics. But what is behavioral economics, and how does it apply in the social good community? 

Today’s guest is Bernard Ross, Director of The Management Centre. He’s the co-author of the book Change for Good, written with UNICEF’s Omar Mahmoud. In today’s episode, he’ll discuss behavioral economics in the context of fundraising and social good organization. Listen to the episode to hear Bernard talk about why humans make seemingly irrational decisions, how behavioral economics is at work all around society, and how to use the lessons of behavioral economics ethically. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • Fundamentals of behavioral economics
  • Why irrational decisions can still be predictable and follow patterns
  • Examples of behavioral economics in action around us
  • How behavioral economics are applied in the social good sector
  • How the human brain perceives numbers presented to it
  • How moving from heart to head leads to a decrease in giving
  • What Bernard would say to fundraisers to encourage them to use behavioral economics
  • How ethics intersects with behavioral economics and fundraising
  • Resources that Bernard recommends for nonprofit professionals thinking about behavioral economics 


Bernard Ross

Change for Good

Change for Good handout

Stop Listening to Your Supporters


“Behavioral economics says, “what if people are not like that? What if experience and the data tells us that we are all irrational?””

“There’s a whole science of restaurant menu design.”

“We are engaged in a moral business. There’s a moral responsibility to think about “am I using this technique fairly, properly, ethically?””



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