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Montenegro's first all-in-one application envelope reaches out to potential foster parents

PODGORICA, 27 January 2014 - While recovering from a sports induced knee injury the summer before last, I was wading my way through a pile of books, the best of which was Thinking Fast and Slow by the Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman who revolutionised global knowledge about judgement and decision making through the advance of behavioural economics.

UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks holding a baby at a fostering promotion open day. UNICEF Montenegro/Dusko Miljanic/2014

These advances have inspired the UK Government’s Behavioural Insights unit which is endlessly innovating and rolling out prototypes and adaptions to improve public responses on issues ranging from obesity to tax collection. One famous experiment increased tax compliance through hand written rather than typed tax bill envelopes. You can learn more about their work through this Tedex style talk on Youtube.

During an international innovations conference in Montenegro, we hijacked Simon Ruda of the Behavioural Insights team to brainstorm on our foster recruitment campaign. The campaign was having massive public coverage, launched by the Prime Minister and across the media every day. But something was missing!

It sounds obvious with hindsight, but we learned how important it is to think very hard about how do you make things simple for people. We may have convinced a nation that fostering was great, but we had left only one avenue for citizens to apply to become foster parents: they had to walk into their local centre for social work.

Fostering envelope. UNICEF Montenegro/Vladan Jovanovic/2014

Inspired by Simon, two of my colleagues Vladan Jovanovic and Momir Krivacevic invented a prototype for Montenegro’s first ever free-post, self addressed, all-in-one application envelope/form enabling potential foster parents to express an interest and request more information without walking into a centre for social work. We rushed it over to the head of the national post office and secured agreement for them to be sent free post and with 5 national newspaper editors to distribute them for free through every single newspaper for one day.

A print run of 40,000 was rolled out and distributed nationally within 2 weeks and at a cost to UNICEF of 1,700 Euros. Maybe it will be a success-maybe it won’t. We will blog soon on the impact.

Benjamin Perks
Representative, UNICEF Montenegro



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