18 Aug

Funding for social and behaviour change projects: Key donors to follow

Social and behaviour change (SBC) is increasingly being seen as an important approach to analysing global development challenges, with powerful tools for better quality programme design. The field is growing rapidly, and luckily, an increasing number of donors are investing in behavioural science or SBC projects. Here is a quick overview of the key SBC donors to follow and the thematic areas they fund. I also recommend this fantastic article on recent moves to formalise and coordinate work being done by various SBC donors.  

USAID: Health and education

USAID is the leading SBC donor. It funds several important initiatives, including The Compass for SBC, Breakthrough ACTION and RESEARCH and Think BIG. Administrator Samantha Power is also a strong advocate for the integration of behavioural science in global development.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Health and family planning

Gates Foundation fund many SBC projects and play an active role in growing the field of behavioural science for global development. For example, they funded the research that produced the excellent CUBES framework.

GIZ: Agriculture and nutrition

Another active donor in the SBC space is Germany’s GIZ.  Their key interest has been in funding SBC initiatives in agriculture and nutrition. They published an excellent SBC guide in 2019, and in 2020, co-hosted a series of webinars on SBC in the field of nutrition and agriculture.  

AmplifyChange: Sexual and reproductive health and rights

AmplifyChange recognises the central role that social norms play in realising sexual and reproductive health and rights. Several of its grantees are experts in social norms transformation, and the Fund has a dedicated learning platform, AmplifyChange Learn, where grantees can exchange their successful experiences.

Wellcome Trust: Health

The Wellcome Trust is funding one of the most significant initiatives in the behaviour change space, the Human Behaviour Change Project. This is a donor worth following for research-focused funding on behaviour change.

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation: Health

CIFF look for organisations that can help them to achieve their impact. One of these impact areas is ‘transformational change’ which includes sustained behaviour change. They have funding a number of behaviour change projects in nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and rights and hygiene.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands: Migration and development

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an increasing interest in how behavioural science can be harnessed to improve messaging to migrants using irregular channels, for better protection outcomes. The funding concept note refers to ‘raising awareness’ but hopefully it will be expanded to more comprehensive understanding of SBC in the future.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: Family planning

Hewlett Foundation have a focus on behavioural science to improve access to and uptake of family planning methods. In particular, they use behavioural economics in their approach with their grantees. The Foundation is also a sponsor of next year’s SBCC Summit.

David and Lucile Packard Foundation: Social and environmental change

Behavioural and brain sciences play a central role in Packard Foundation’s work. To support grantees in applying this approach to their work, they funded the fabulous publication Heartwired, a fantastic guide for advocates working for social change.

It is wonderful to see so many donors embracing the value that behavioural science can have in the space of global development. Hopefully this will inspire other donors to include a behavioural approach to their programme design and grant-making strategies.

Have I missed other donors in this list? Leave me a comment on LinkedIn!