We’ve published a few articles recently challenging the way development NGOs present poverty in their fundraising campaigns (here and here). Although destitute and desperate images tug on our heart, and therefore purse strings, the preconceptions and stereotypes that they create are inaccurate and unsustainable.
This was why I was so excited to see Christian Aid’s latest campaign, ‘To end poverty we need to get to the roots of the problem’. So excited in fact that I ripped it out of my Evening Standard and scanned it in. And then I realised that it was too hard to read ... so here's a copy direct from Christian Aid themselves.
This campaign literally shows us the roots of why the boy featured is living in poverty – a chain of causes which are all manmade and driven by a mixture of political, economic and social factors, none of which are under his control. He is a far cry from the traditional figure that fundraising campaigns present us with - i.e. a child wearing ripped clothing who desperately needs a new water pump to be installed in his village by an NGO, if we donate money his life will be transformed instantly. (Even if he was desperate for that water pump, as many people in the developing world are, this narrative wouldn’t tell us anything about why it isn’t there in the first place.)
It also effectively and simply gives us an overview of the work Christian Aid do – and could do with your donation. They are there at the surface providing relief and support, but also campaigning and lobbying for these root causes to be addressed.
The injustice that this campaign highlights isn’t just the existence of poverty itself, it’s that it’s preventable and changeable. So while it succeeds in inspiring people to donate funds, it also equips and inspires an informed public to have a conversation about the causes of poverty – and to take actions such as campaigning and lobbying, volunteering, and making ethical purchases which can help address them. That’s what’s so exciting.
If you're aware of any organisations who you think are advertising well like this - let us know by posting on our facebook wall at www.facebook.com/globalpovertyproject or by commenting below.