Giving Time – can volunteers be nudged?
Thursday 19 November 2015, The Bond Company, Birmingham
About the event
This was a day of discussion and learning about a unique RCT study into volunteering and whether behvioural science or ‘nudge’ techniques can lead to volunteers giving more time. The Giving Time experiments were carried out by a team from four UK universities who experimented with various social information ‘treatments’ applied to groups of volunteers of all ages. Whereas previous studies have looked at giving money, this was about giving time – and whether volunteers can be nudged. The methodology was randomised control trial in real-life field settings involving university student volunteers, Parish Councils, National Trust volunteers, and housing association residents. The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Discussion and ideas
Participants at our event heard from the research team, from organisations who took part, and others involved in citizen science, and community animation. Presenters and participants mingled in fast-paced workshops ranging from Q&As, to participative and arts-inspired formats.
Our Storify of the day captures some of the themes – and other the big messages from the day were:
- Volunteering is most often driven by our personal motivations and our commitment to particular causes;
- For many, volunteering is seen as an act of sharing, and mutual exchange – rather than simply one of giving;
- The notion of large-scale citizen social science as a form of community empowerment and way to find “human solutions to human problems” generated much interest and real excitement;
- While behavioural science interventions may nudge us in our ‘fast’ decisions, they have much less effect on our slower ‘deliberative’ decisions;
- New ideas were ignited about ways in which community and public service practitioners and social science academics could work together towards new action-orientated research on volunteering and in many other areas of joint interest.
Presentations from the day
Presentations about the Giving Time study
- Social Information – Oliver James and Alice Moseley
- Research challenges of large scale RCTs – Peter John
- “Remaking heaven” research with local Parish councils – Gerry Stoker
- Surprising Results (why was peer endorsement a turn-off?) – Peter John
- November 2015 project summary and headline findings
Presentations about Extreme Citizen Science
- Extreme citizen science and mapping for change – Muki Haklay
- Citizen Social Science – Liz Richardson
- Using citizen science at Family Mosaic housing – Jemma Mouland
- Presentation on community animation and the Untold Stories of Volunteering research – Mihaela Kelemen and Susan Moffat
- The future of Nudge – Gerry Stoker
Other projects, initiatives and ideas referred to and shared on the day
Designing public policy for co-production – new book from Liz Richardson and Catherine Durose “the policy process, why it doesn’t work and how it can work”
GoodGym – NESTA-funded project which enables you to combine your 30 minute run with acts of volunteering
Stockport Emotion Mapping – how artists and technologists in Stockport gathered sophisticated data about the emotional responses of ordinary people as they walked around their neighbourhoods
Untold Stories of Volunteering – project website for Mihaela and Susan’s research into how and why people get involved in volunteering and the use of community animation techniques in data-gathering
UK Ladybird Survey – one woman’s mission to track the fortunes of native UK ladybirds and the spread of the Harlequin Ladybird “the most invasive Ladybird on Earth”
Mapping for Change – academic geographers supporting individual communities to plan for the future with tech-enabled mapping and citizen data gathering