Pictures without pity. Which image of Africa would you rather see: skeletal, abandoned child, or healthy-looking working family?
Most people would say the latter; certainly most of those in the aid sector – some of whom were discussing this at the recent PICS festival – now consider the starving child images not only unethical, but also unhelpful. They’re “not effective”, is the general view. Provocative without the pity But effective for what? Fundraising appeals today still deploy the same imagery, and the same language, as they did in the 1980s, when “poverty porn” made it to the mainstream with the Ethiopian famine hitting our headlines. And that might be because pitiful pictures are still the best (or just easiest?) But though many humanitarian campaigns still depend on those heart-wrenching images (think of some of the Syria appeals), there’s a broader uneasiness with using the cute-kids-suffering theme, not to mention a real acknowledgement of the responsibility we have in choosing pictures carefully.
'Development' in the cinema - WB. The World's Best News. Telling the Good News Stories about Development. 02/07/2013 at 1:49 pm In September this year, the international community meets in New York once more, to “take stock” of the progress towards the world’s anti-poverty goals.
The “Millennium Development Goals” are set to be reached by 2015, and the good news is that the world has made great progress towards their achievement. Yet, you could be forgiven for not having noticed. For “good news” often does not make it to the news headlines. After all, the media have a natural bias towards the sudden and the dramatic. We are hoping to address this, by highlighting stories of change that illustrate the giant progress that we are making (see this new UN report). It may not look like that, as too often media and NGO reports highlight the many problems in developing countries, but the overall story of “global development” is a positive one. This new Facebook page wants to show us the good news stories. And this phenomenal progress should encourage us to tackle the remaining challenges. Listen to: Our image of Africa is hopelessly obsolete. The way it was: Bob Geldof in Ethiopia in 1985.
Photograph: Rex Features Think of Ethiopia and what do you see. Perhaps a starving child, flies in her eyes and belly distended. Painfully thin adults in raggedy clothes, staring balefully at the camera in a fetid refugee camp. Or possibly a famous self-declared saviour from the west, striding purposefully past the decaying corpse of an animal beside a dusty road. Think again. Few countries symbolise the disconnect between outdated western perceptions of Africa and fast-changing realities on the ground better than Ethiopia, the continent's second most-populous nation, whose long-serving leader, Meles Zenawi, died last week. Last week, Africa was in the news over the shooting of striking miners in South Africa, a disturbing echo of the dark days of apartheid.
Some dismiss this as just a consequence of the continent's rich resources at a time of rampant development in many parts of the globe. Starvation Photography – The ethics of capturing human suffering. 23/07/2011 at 9:22 am The famine in the Horn of Africa has revived the debate on the ethics of famine photography.
Here are a few recent contributions: Article in the Irish Independent: “The truth behind the famine pictures that break your heart” “The over-simplified narrative of the Somali famine” Also of interest: “Imaging Others” – on how our thinking about other cultures has evolved, and has been reflected in photography. And now, read our Code of Conduct on Images & Messages. Read the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images & Messages Thank you.
More resources on Communicating Development and NGO Communications Like this: Like Loading... Entry filed under: Overseas aid. Long-term engagement with Development.
Transforming our discourse on poverty and social justice. Transforming our discourse on poverty and social justice 02/08/2012 at 12:19 pm Thomas Geoghegan, Dóchas In a recent article, ‘Beyond Charity’, Martin Kirk, Head of Campaigns, Oxfam UK, summarised his thoughts on a lot of recent research and thinking on communicating development.
While he speaks to the UK’s experience, our sector is a global one and there is much in this polemical article to challenge us here in Ireland. This blog summarises his contribution to the debate and draws some implications for Irish NGOs. What’s the problem? NGOs have a problem: the scale of their ambition is greater than their abilities to deliver their stated goals. To bring about these transformations, NGOs – in this case, the large UK NGOs – spend huge sums of money on fundraising and awareness raising – £165 million in 2009-10.
Despite major global campaigns, for example Make Poverty History, the British public continues to perceive ‘aid’ within a ‘charity frame’. What’s the solution? Further reading Like this: Seven Tips for Shifting a Mindset in Your Organization - John Butman. By John Butman | 8:00 AM August 12, 2013 We're all fascinated by new ideas and how they can grab hold of us, influencing how we think and affecting how we take action.
How does Atul Gawande (the checklist doctor) get inside my head, when others don't? Why does Gwyneth Paltrow make me adjust my behaviors, when others can't? In business, especially, we're inundated with new ideas—so many we can hardly process or evaluate them. If you have tried introducing a new idea into your organization or community—especially if it's an abstract idea like sustainability, diversity, or innovativeness—you know it's tough. Still, when you have an idea you think is valuable and could change things for the better, some inexplicable force may compel you to "go public" with it. The question is how, especially when you're not Gawande or Paltrow, to change an organization from the inside when you don't necessarily have a ton of formal authority on your side. Take a look at what the " idea entrepreneur " does.
Communicating results. The UN just recently finalized its “Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities for development” which gives an overview of the priorities for operational reform of the UN’s Development work for the next 4 years.
(Here’s a link, but as both a politically negotiated AND technical document it is not an easy read). One of the major developments called for in this resolution is the strengthening of results and results-based management. And who could object to that? – donors who provide money and the governments who receive UN assistance are all concerned to know, and under pressure from their constituencies to demonstrate that the UN is providing something useful for the resources provided to it.
But what for me is particularly interesting about the current resolution is that it not only talks about strengthening the systems for Results-Based Management – but also calls for the strengthening of HOW the UN communicates about what it does and the results it achieves. 1. Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages. Images & Messages - a human right. Code of Conduct on social media. Code of Conduct: Key Resources.
The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector. Many nonprofits continue to use their brands primarily as a fundraising tool, but a growing number of nonprofits are developing a broader and more strategic approach, managing their brands to create greater social impact and tighter organizational cohesion.
Nonprofit brands are visible everywhere. Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, and World Wildlife Fund are some of the most widely recognized brands in the world, more trusted by the public than the best-known for-profit brands.1 Large nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross, have detailed policies to manage the use of their names and logos, and even small nonprofits frequently experiment with putting their names on coffee cups, pens, and T-shirts. Branding in the nonprofit sector appears to be at an inflection point in its development. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, recently appointed Tom Scott as director of global brand and innovation.
“We’re catalysts,” says Scott. Why Can't We Sell Charity Like We Sell Perfume? Winning the Story Wars - The Hero's Journey (2012) The Smallest Nonprofits Should Have The Most Powerful Brands. (Product) Red.
Charity:Water. Toms Shoes. These are just a few of the big brands that engage millions in efforts to address some aspect of poverty at the global level. But at the local level, a lack of strong branding means small grassroots groups don’t get the credit they deserve for being the world’s frontline soldiers in the struggle against poverty. There’s plenty of discussion and research about the growing role of branding for large nonprofits based in wealthy countries--see Harvard’s Hauser Center for the Study of Nonprofits or a long article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review from spring of 2012. "Some are unaware of the influence branding can have; others realize its potential but have insufficient means to make the transformation," says Glyn Vaughn, a British audiologist who founded All Ears Cambodia, a small organization in Cambodia that provides medical services to people with ear and hearing problems.
Finding Frames: New ways to engage.
Public attitudes to Development (Irl & abroad) Lise Vesterlund: Why do people give. Africans as Animals in the Western Imagination. I have always felt an inexplicable discomfort when conversations about Africa turn to the topic of wildlife.
I am recently reminded why that discomfort exists when I was sent a link containing photos of wildlife in southern Africa from the Telegraph. As I was going through the gallery I paused at two photos showing ‘laughing children’ and a ‘bushman.’ I quickly looked at the title of the link to make sure I hadn’t gotten it wrong. It said ‘portraits of wildlife.’ Why were African people in it? It is important to mention that the photos have been removed. The editor would have us believe this was a standard oversight rather than a reflection of a longstanding history of African people being equated to animals within the western imagination. Although not responsible for the arrangement of his photos on the Telegraph, I think it’s important to discuss the photographer’s role in this.
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