Developing a successful new donating model for an NGO using behavioural design

  • Client
  • Aids Fonds, Amsterdam
  • Project
  • First World Problem Pills
  • Filed under
  • E-commerce, Fundraising, Product Design

The Dutch Aids Foundation is an organisation that fights for the rights of people with HIV. Dedicated to providing education, prevention and medication, they have been stalwart in their work to make AIDS fatalities a chapter from the past. However, the book cannot be closed yet. The problems focal point has shifted from our backyard to far-off developing countries. Making it harder and harder to engage people to help.

SUE was asked to develop a strategy & campaign to raise awareness for available HIV medication that, unfairly, isn’t available to everyone yet. We solved the difficult task of motivating people to engage with a remote problem and even succeeded in raising donations by putting human psychology first; this nudged people into making a donation by disguising it as a cool product. Creating a scalable business model instead of a campaign.

Our contributions


  • Consumer Insights i
  • Desk Research
  • Strategy Development


  • Concept & product development
  • Design & copywriting
  • Pricing strategy
  • MVP: pop-up shop
  • Persuasion design
  • Website production


  • Online & offline production
  • Digital marketing consulting
  • Creative direction

First World Problem Pills

Why would anyone donate money to help solve a problem that isn’t his or her own problem? The answer is simple: they wouldn’t. Until you look at it from a human motivation point of view. We did that by creating 41 First World Problem Pills. Temptingly designed medicine containers filled with peppermints, which offered the solution for seemingly insignificant, but recognisable day-to-day problems. Except they weren’t insignificant at all: the total proceedings went to actual HIV-medication.

The pills were a light-hearted lever to land a serious message and alter people's fundraising behaviour.

Turning a fundraising question into a purchase desire

Our behavioural research showed that people are willing to spend money for a good cause as long as they can step into a fun experience. The First World Problem Pills were designed for sharing (they looked cool and made you laugh) and buying (they were perfect gifts). By taking human psychology as a starting point we transformed a boring fundraising question into an exciting purchase desire. And it took off. Massively.

Success factors

We worked in close co-creation with the Aids Fonds. Together we formed a team and didn’t work in the typical client-agency relationship. Next to this we let data show us the way. We didn’t create finished products, but ordered standard containers and printed the labels on the spot; following what data told us people would buy. To top it off we treated this project as a start-up. We rented a pop-up shop for two weeks and integrated what we learned from listening to real customers into our web-shop.

The cost of experimentation has dropped significantly. It's ridiculously easy to create a new product, test it with a limited set of consumers, measure precisely what works and iterate the product Eric Schmidt (Google)



In just a couple of weeks we were able to reach 337.332.800 people covering 82% of countries worldwide

Products sold


Donation via purchase


Earned media


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  • 's-Gravenhekje 1a
  • 1011TG Amsterdam
  • The Netherlands


  • (+31) 20 223 46 26

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