This evening, on Monday 24th January, a new campaign named ‘We the helpers‘ is being launched by the Aid Alliance, a network that ‘brings people and organisations together to defend the 0.7% aid spending commitment in the 2015 International Development Act, as well as to raise awareness and change public perceptions on aid and development’.
This campaign is designed to specifically target an audience they term as ‘Conscientious Cynics’. These are people who care deeply about global issues, but have lost hope in the work of organisations engaged in global sustainable development. They have stopped believing that they can make a difference or impact through charitable contributions.
The aim of the campaign is ‘to reignite people’s belief in International Aid giving them a renewed emotional connection to the sector with a call to arms to join ‘The Helpers‘, through the use of a short film and accompanying media coverage. The campaign is being run as a test and will be subject to a thorough measurement and learning analysis to determine the future of the project.
Here at the Alliance, we fully support the attempt to reconnect with audiences who have disengaged with global sustainable development, and we encourage our own community to actively engage with the campaign.
However, we do have some concerns around the language and imagery being used in this campaign which could risk affirming outdated beliefs of white saviourism and an ‘us vs them’ mentality, particularly by positioning the intended audience as ‘we’ and ‘the helpers’, and therefore the communities that organisations are working with, as ‘other’, or ‘the needy’.
If this test campaign results in the target audience re-engaging with global sustainable development, then all of us have a job on to ensure we build increased understanding and awareness of these issues to counter narratives created by outdated language and imagery.
We continue to believe that for long-term, sustained interest in solving global issues, a different approach is necessary. We emphasise again the importance of Reflecting on language and imagery, actively embracing anti-racism and addressing power imbalances in order to support change to the outdated systems underpinning the work carried out by iNGOs.
We are keen to hear from members and individuals on this topic, and welcome comments and feedback that will help us to continue this conversation.