The Gates Foundation
Strategy & Operations
Developing a globally resonant influencer strategy
Project Types
Thought leadership
The challenge

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a lot of influential friends – but how can it deploy them effectively? Who can legitimize a new treatment in the 'global south'? Who can help governments maintain aid commitments? Who can get Gen Zers to care about a cause? Who has influence?

Our approach

We undertook a deep academic review to integrate the latest research on social influence and used the DELPHI method to establish a fundamental framework for how influence works across domains. This required blending perspectives from a variety of leading academic specialists on the topic of social influence, such as:

  • Jeffrey Alexander, cultural sociologist, Yale
  • Amy Cuddy, social psychologist, Harvard
  • Eliot Smith, brain sciences, Indiana

We collected our findings in a whitepaper entitled 'The Science of Influence'. This internal blueprint detailed findings such as: the six key traits that drive influence universally; the simple question to ask that informs whether you need an expert to influence, or not; the optimum environment for influence; how narratives inform perceptions of influence; and why influence is more about the mindset of the audience than it is the power of the influencer.


We created an internal language and confidence to focus discussions and decisions on how to select influencers. The work was rolled out into a global toolkit to help raise the influencer selection of both agency and grantee partners.

"Some of the best work (if not the best) I've ever been around."Global brand and insights manager, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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