Reports and resources

Using Behavioural Insights to encourage charitable donations among repeat donors

Continuing the Impact and Innovation Unit ’s partnership with the Rideau Hall Foundation and Heart & Stroke, the IIU conducted a second randomized controlled trial to better understand charitable giving among Canadians. In this trial, Heart & Stroke incorporated a set of behavioural insights interventions into a package sent to previous donors in order to help encourage donations during the 2017 year-end campaign. The 50,767 recipients were randomly assigned to one of six groups and their donation rates were tracked to assess which was the most effective. All packages that incorporated behavioural insights performed better than the control package and these differences were statistically significant. The best performing package, which emphasized donation behaviour and listed the year of the most generous donation, had a donation rate 47% higher than the control condition.


Deputy Ministers Task Force on Public Sector Innovation: Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council 2018-2019

The 2018-2019 Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council summarises the accomplishments of the Deputy Ministers Task Force on Public Sector Innovation over the past 18 months advancing core systems transformation in areas such as government programming, procurement, partnership development and human resources, and experimenting with disruptive technologies. It also highlights the establishment of a public sector innovation leadership development opportunity for mid-level public servants, the Government of Canada Entrepreneurs (GCEs). Selected by their Deputy Minister, GCEs participated as full members of the Task Force and worked tirelessly to advance Task Force-related projects and promote public sector innovation while receiving specialized training to give them the tools to be leaders within this new operating environment.


2018-2019 Annual Report

The fourth annual report of the Privy Council Office’s Impact and Innovation Unit (IIU) covers the first full year of operations under Impact Canada. The IIU has continued to take an active role in the global movement of governments that are working to mainstream methods like challenge prizes, behavioural insights, pay-for-performance and pay-for-success funding models. This report highlights achievements the IIU has made with their federal and external partners to build the evidence-base around effective and efficient implementation of innovation methods that focus on achieving better outcomes for Canadians.


Measuring impact by design: A guide to methods for impact measurement

Measuring Impact by Design is the Impact and Innovation Unit’s (IIU) first set of guidelines for impact measurement, in support of its work under Impact Canada. It is a refer¬ence for those involved in the design, delivery, procurement or appraisal of impact measurement strategies for Impact Canada projects. Intended for policy and program staff, it addresses some key foundational concepts related to impact measurement, provides a brief descriptions of the main experimental and quasi-experimental approaches that are likely to be of use in programmatic, and helps to equip its readers to better understand their advantages and disadvantages, as well as to identify the conditions under which each can be used.


In order to better understand charitable giving among Canadians, the Impact and Innovation Unit partnered with Rideau Hall Foundation and Heart & Stroke to conduct a randomized controlled trial in which approximately 225,000 prospective donors received one of eight emails outlining Heart & Stroke’s work and asking for a donation. Each of the emails applied a different behavioural science principle to encourage donations and recipients’ donation rates were tracked to assess their impact.  Small differences were found in click through rates and donation rates between the emails. However, the best performing intervention was one that offered matching funds if the recipient was to donate, resulting in more than three times as many donations as the control group. This report is intended as a resource for the Canadian non-profit sector to aid in the application of behavioural science to encourage charitable giving. 


The third annual report of the Privy Council Office’s Impact and Innovation Unit (IIU) focuses on how the team is collaborating with departments and stakeholders to help close the gap between policy development and implementation in the Government of Canada. This report highlights the IIU’s efforts in putting in place new systems and projects to accelerate innovation and experimentation, such as the Impact Canada Initiative, as well as its role in launching signature initiatives to help revitalize the workforce and build new skillsets in government.


The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) is an educational savings incentive that helps low-income families save for their children’s post-secondary education. Only about 1 in 3 eligible children are receiving the CLB, which means that approximately 1.81 million eligible children have yet to receive the Bond. In collaboration with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the IIU conducted a randomized controlled trial in which primary caregivers of eligible children were sent letters promoting the CLB. The trial found that the inclusion of a checklist that outlined the steps required to sign-up for the CLB was effective in increasing up-take among those who were newly eligible and thus receiving a letter for the first time. A mock cheque designed to make the monetary value of the benefit more tangible was effective in increasing CLB up-take among those who had been sent correspondence in the past. These insights are being applied to ESDC’s future mail-outs to help ensure that as many children as possible receive the CLB.


Continuing the Impact and Innovation Unit’s work with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), this report outlines the methodology and results of a social media marketing trial aimed at understanding what works in engaging Canadian women with a career in the CAF. Seven advertisements ran on Facebook and Instagram and tested the application of different behavioural insights principles to social media marketing. The ads were displayed over two and a half million times, and differences in unique click through rates support evidence-based recommendations for future campaigns.



Increasing Response Rates to a Statistics Canada Survey – July 2017

During the past several years, there has been a steady decline in Canadians’ rate of response to the Government of Canada’s mandatory and voluntary surveys. To address this problem, the Innovation Hub partnered with Statistics Canada to develop and test two behavioural interventions. These interventions resulted in as much as a 6.8% increase in the response rate of a national survey. The report details the methodology and results of this experiment in increasing survey response rates.   



Increasing Recruitment of Women Into the Canadian Armed Forces – June 2017

The Chief of the Defence Staff has set a target to increase the percentage of women in the CAF from the current 15 % to at least 25.1 % by 2026. This research report uses quantitative data, along with survey results, focus groups, and expert consultation to inform a set of short- and long-term recommendations. Many of the findings and recommendations apply to all CAF applicants, regardless of gender, and offer broader applications that can help promote diversity in organizations.  



Annual Report 2016–2017 – June 2017

The 2016-2017 annual report focuses on the various ways in which the Innovation Hub is creating public value and impact. This document covers changes to the Federal Public Service to enable innovation and experimentation, a series of case studies designed to improve outcomes in a range of public policy areas, lessons learned from the past year, and outlines the Hub’s objectives for 2017-2018.


Policy By Design: The Dawn of Behaviourally-Informed Government

This document outlines both the Traditional and Behavioural Approaches to Policy, and provides examples of the successful implementation of the behavioural approach. It maps behavioural insights units across the world, with a focus on Canadian units. Lastly, the report details some of the key success factors of applying behavioural science within government.


Experimentation Direction for Deputy Heads – December 2016

This document reinforces the Government’s commitment to devote a fixed percentage of program funds to experimenting with new approaches and measuring impact.  The goal of this initiative is to instill a culture of measurement, evaluation and innovation in program and policy design and delivery. It provides context and directions for Deputy Heads on how to implement this commitment.


First Annual Report – March 2016

The 2015-2016 annual report focuses on the early stages of development within the Innovation Hub. It starts off by laying out the early indicators of success, followed by the role and development, and guiding principles of the Hub. The report then defines some of the practice areas within the Hub, and then goes into the key objectives of the year and the status of their completion. The report ends with an outline of the 2016-2017 objectives.



Back to the Future – The Sharing Economy – A Report for DMCPI – February 2015

This report summarizes the results of DMCPI’s research on activities and views related to the sharing economy, from both a global and Canadian perspective. It also incorporates insights from leading Canadian sharing economy entrepreneurs as well as views from federal public servants. The report provides a list of possible actions the Government of Canada could pursue as it formulates a response to the opportunities and risks offered by the sharing economy. 


Track Changes

Podcast Track Changes

Track Changes is a podcast series exploring public sector policy innovation from its many angles: bringing you stories of innovation that worked and innovation that failed, demystifying buzzwords and concepts, chatting with previous generations of public servants, and interviewing current leaders and practitioners from Canada and beyond. Episodes are produced and created by an interdepartmental team of public servants with support from the PCO Innovation Hub.

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