About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

A Gift for Innovation

This report sums up the lessons we've learned from running the Innovation in Giving Fund.

This report sums up the lessons we've learned from running the Innovation in Giving Fund.

Key findings

Although we’re still learning a lot about how to encourage people to give, our interim conclusion is that successful strategies follow the ‘four Ms’ of effective giving. They will:

  • Create an appealing mix of what people can give, why they give and how.
  • Appeal to the right combination of motives for people to give more, including forms of reciprocity, peer-to-peer support and making giving more interesting and enjoyable.
  • Make it easier for people to give time, resources and skills in kind, especially by using new means such as digital technologies to weave giving into younger people’s daily lives.
  • Turn giving into a more meaningful experience, making people feel uplifted by becoming part of something bigger.

Britain is a generous country, but giving in the UK depends on a dangerously small, ageing, educated and affluent civic core of people. The voluntary and charitable sector has been running to standstill: a mass of innovation in fundraising techniques has kept the amount donated stable, but only because a small group of people donate more.

Without further, even more far reaching innovation, there’s a risk that as the civic core ages it may also dwindle. Giving could suffer the kind of decline it went through in the 1980s, when the number of households giving dropped by a third. With the UK facing huge economic and social challenges, ranging from an ageing population to youth unemployment, we need people to give their time, money, resources and skills to help each other more than ever.

The Innovation in Giving Fund was established by the Cabinet Office, in partnership with Nesta, to help address these challenges. The fund supports innovative projects that are testing out new ways to encourage and enable people to give more to causes they care about.

This report looks at what we’ve learned so far.

Jen Lexmond and Charlie Leadbeater