You can find out about the scope of their work here.
BMAG has a proud history of being ‘free’ to encourage access for Birmingham’s diverse population. The two Co-CEOS were determined to build on this, but at the same time to encourage anyone who wanted to donate to the Gallery to do so.
Over the period June-November 2022 the decision science team at =mc consulting ran a series of behaviorally informed experiments. These experiments were to establish:
Within the main BMAG building there are a number of distinct spaces. The experiments were conducted between a large self-contained space called the Gas Hall, normally used for one-off exhibitions, and the main museum building storing the large permanent collection. The Gas Hall has a separate entrance, so it was relatively easy to monitor distinct traffic flows. It attracts around 25% of the visitors to the main museum.
There were two ‘controls’ established to compare the impact of our experiments:
These two controls gave us baseline data for how visitors responded to typical appeals for support. The ‘ticket plus donation’ approach was interesting in that is often used in theatres. And we are sadly all familiar with the passive and unexciting collection boxes many buildings have.
Urgent repairs meant the museum had to close early at the start of December 22, so we were unable to run the final experiment.
You can find out about the set up for these experiments in this initial blog I wrote.
For the 15-week period of direct comparison between the two locations:
The implication? With only 25% of the visitors, and with only two collection points, the behavioural nudges used in the Gas Hall generated 25% more income. An impressive result.
Over five months of the experiments a total extra income of £16K was generated. This was achieved using just one tap-to-donate device and one cash box. Scaled and with a fully open museum, we believe that the programme could generate between £65-£85K a year unrestricted income, including Gift Aid.
We are now actively pursuing how to apply some of these techniques and learnings to straightforward website donations. There is a need to make the idea of giving part of the visitor experience and to engage staff across the service in promoting this idea.
If you’re interested below is a description of each of the experiment with their behavioural impact.
This approach involved people pre-booking to visit the Gas Hall. This covered the period prior to the Lost Cities exhibition.
In the main building various boxes seek support.
This approach was developed and executed by BMT staff. It involved asking visitors to the Gas Hall Lost Cities Exhibition to make a gift based on their emotional response to the experience.
Pay What You Feel or the variant Pay What You Can is a popular choice among arts and cultural organisations- especially theatres. There is mixed evidence on its impact. In theatres there have been a number of trials. The experience is increased traffic/visitors/customers but lower contributions per person. The same result is reported in cafes and some restaurants where this approach has been tried.
This approach involved asking visitors to the Gas Hall Exhibition to make a gift based on the proposition that many children young people don’t feel that BMT is for them. Different age/ethnicity children were featured and collateral positioned at the tap to donate point on entry beside the reception desk.
There were also different CtAs on a cash donation box directly on entry and exit for the exhibitions.
Visitors were cued and anchored to make a gift of £5.
Help children enjoy is designed to appeal to adults concerned to promote access and equity.
This experiment was introduced when the Gas Hall closed, and the tap to donate machine moved to the main vestibule. Visitors were asked to show their affection for an iconic part of the collection: a painting by Burne-Jones of Prosperpine.
Visitors were primed with floor stickers to approach the tap to donate machines- and then anchored to make a gift of £5.
Help children take part is designed to appeal to adults concerned to promote access and equity.
We’re already working on developing the implications of the research. And here are some next steps
Importantly we need to: