28 March 2011

Stuck In The Poverty (Marketing) Trap

Andrew Darnton writes for the Guardian today asking why were are stuck in the Live Aid era of awareness raising after 26 years (which happens to be the span of my life).
It is our contention that it is time to have another go at breaking that legacy, once and for all. We have marshalled a body of theoretical and empirical evidence around values and frames, which we use as lenses through which to see the problem of public engagement. Through these lenses we also point to solutions, for ways out of this stalemate in public engagement.

We do not dictate the solutions though, as it is critical that the development sector comes together to work them out for themselves, in collaboration. Whatever the new frames for global development are, they will need to work for all organisations. Most obviously, the frames we find will need to enable NGOs to keep raising the revenue they need now, but without jeopardising public engagement over the longer term.

Happily, we think there are solutions out there: at community level, in faith groups, in academic thought, and in development as it is taking place in the global south (not least through south-south partnerships). 
All this amounts to a big change in how NGOs pursue their missions to end global poverty – from how they draft their business plans, to how they fundraise, campaign, or work with their volunteers. Most strikingly, it suggests they should frame their messages differently; seen from this perspective, "charity" "aid" and "development" are all problematic terms.