BDC: Practical Workshops for Non-Profit Professionals

The Behavioral Design Center (BDC) offers a variety of interactive workshops that teach non-profit managers and professionals how to apply behavioral science insights to their work, maximizing client engagement and program impact.

The BDC works with funders, membership organizations, and other partners to present tailored workshops for their staff or constituents. Email to request more information about any of the offerings below, inquire about pricing, or discuss how to customize for your team.

Program Offerings

  1. Behavioral Design for Effective Communications
  2. Behavioral Design for Family Engagement
  3. Poverty Interrupted: Designing for Scarcity
  4. Process Optimization
  5. Effective Survey Design
  6. Behavioral Design for Equitable Workplaces
  7. Combating Employee Burnout
  8. Motivating Civic Engagement

Program Details

Length: Usually 2 hours per session; most workshops can be 1 or 2 sessions.

Format: Zoom or in-person.

Content: Mix of presentation with Q&A and interactive break-out groups with hands-on activities.

1: Behavioral Design for Effective Communications

How to use behavioral science principles to craft messages and materials that motivate action.

This workshop introduces key behavioral science principles and explores how they can be applied to communications. We will showcase real-world examples of behaviorally designed communications and proven best practices to improve the uptake of services and programs, participant engagement, and follow-through.

In facilitated breakout-group discussions, participants will practice creating messages that capture attention and make action easy.

Add on: There is also an option of a second session focusing on digital communication, including strategies specifically for email and text-based communication, online sign-up forms, and websites.

2: Behavioral Science for Family Engagement

Applying low-cost, behavioral-design strategies to enhance family involvement and two-way communication.

This session focuses on behaviorally informed strategies to collaborate with families in supporting their children’s development. It will introduce key behavioral science principles, psychologies, and situational obstacles affecting family members. Workshop participants will learn about collaborative, two-way approaches to engagement and best practices that center families’ lived experiences.

In facilitated breakout groups, participants will practice applying evidence-based behavioral strategies that can help both staff and families increase participation and advance program goals.

3: Poverty Interrupted: Designing for Scarcity

How to apply behavioral interventions to enhance program participation and impact, especially in conditions of scarcity.

This workshop will introduce key principles of behavioral science and examine the impact of chronic scarcity on decision-making. The discussion and interactive exercises will highlight behavioral barriers that emerge in service delivery and systemic efforts to alleviate poverty, as well as research-based strategies to overcome them.

In small breakout groups, participants will:

  • Examine their own programs and other real-world examples through a behavioral lens
  • Practice applying behavioral design strategies in their own programs to improve recruitment, engagement, and retention, and to empower clients living in contexts of scarcity.

4: Process Optimization

How to design effective processes and keep people on track to completion

This workshop will introduce key principles of behavioral science and how they can be applied to improve service delivery, client outcomes, and organizational efficiency. We will highlight how seemingly simple processes can have complicated effects on client and staff behavior, and how to optimize these processes to encourage engagement, persistence, and completion. Participants will learn to create process maps, which are critical to understanding and designing effective processes; identify barriers in their own programs’ processes; and improve their process.

Each workshop focuses on a common process (e.g., program registration) selected by the sponsoring partner, and examines it from a behavioral perspective: What decisions and actions are required to achieve desired outcomes? Where and how can they get derailed? What changes could reduce those obstacles and enhance the likelihood of success?

Note: This workshop is typically offered in two sessions, and significant time is spent in breakout groups, facilitating peer learning, discussion, and practical applications for all participants.

5: Effective Survey Design

How to maximize survey responses and glean valuable insights from respondents

Are you looking for feedback from current program participants to help you shape future programs? Have you ever felt that responses to your organization’s surveys don’t provide information you can actually use to develop services that meet community members’ needs? Have you ever had trouble getting enough responses to a survey?

Surveys are an important tool for developing and improving nonprofit programs and services, yet most organizations find collecting actionable information challenging. Most of us get more surveys than we have the time to fill out.

In this interactive workshop, participants will learn research-based survey design and dissemination strategies that can maximize response rates and the value of information gleaned from respondents. Breakout groups will offer participants an opportunity to practice the strategies, discuss how to overcome the particular obstacles they face in getting constituent input and feedback, and learn from their peers.

6: Behavioral Design for Equitable Workplaces

Strategies to promote more equitable and inclusive recruiting, hiring, supervision, and performance management

Behavioral science tells us that behavioral problems are often not rooted in an individual’s attitudes or intentions but in their contexts or circumstances. Despite our best intentions, inequity in the workplace is often maintained by the systems we put in place. That’s why changing processes often has a greater impact on promoting equity and inclusion than efforts to change employee attitudes.

This two-session workshop series teaches participants how to combat workplace inequities through behaviorally informed approaches. We will explore how to reduce bias by fixing the processes or structures used in staff recruiting, candidate assessment, hiring, onboarding, supervision, and performance management. Participants will discuss how to incorporate behavioral insights and designs in their own management systems.

7: Combating Employee Burnout

Low-cost, behaviorally informed workplace strategies that boost staff retention, job satisfaction, and morale

This interactive workshop will introduce the psychological drivers of burnout and explain the pernicious relationship between high-stress environments—characterized by high demand and often insufficient resources—and employee morale. We will share evidence-based strategies for creating systems and structures that prevent burnout, by:

  • Making routine work feel more manageable.
  • Helping staff more comfortably and effectively adapt to change and respond to crises.
  • Enabling staff to disconnect from work to recharge.

8: Motivating Civic Engagement: Behavioral Science for Activists

How to apply behavioral design strategies to enhance your community organizing, voter outreach, and other civic participation efforts

This interactive workshop will introduce key principles of behavioral science, highlighting how simple quirks of human behavior and environmental cues can affect civic engagement. We will showcase low-cost, evidence-based strategies to overcome the behavioral barriers that often discourage participation. Discussion topics will range from increasing voter turnout to enhancing involvement in community planning, organizing, and advocacy on a variety of policy issues. Workshop participants will:

  • Examine their own challenges and other real-world examples through a behavioral lens.
  • Practice applying behavioral design principles to address those challenges.
  • Develop a plan to implement behavioral science strategies in their own work.