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Dj Daveince's Blog

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Makes you proud doesn’t it?

It’s Saturday so of course the paper is brimming with inserts advertising new kitchens, new lifestyles and new cars. As usual there’s a couple of charity ads in there too.

Action Aid’s is pushing their child sponsorship programme with a typically emotional claim that the smiling child plastered on the front (did she know she was going to end up in tens of thousands of papers?) will ‘make you proud one day’.

Considering the prevalence of this kind of fundraising I’m assuming it makes plenty of money for the charities who use it but it makes me pretty uncomfortable and I’m not sure it’s actually very helpful.

Shouldn’t charities be working to find (or provide) sustainable, long term solutions to poverty? Not only is this kind of fundraising deeply patronising to ‘these poor people’ but it treats donors in the UK like idiots incapable of being talked to as grown ups.

Charities shouldn’t be treating the people they work with as commodities however ‘helpful’ the outcomes might be. And we certainly shouldn’t be told we should give to charity in return for pictures drawn by a ‘courageous’ child. It worries me that charities think that they have to sink to communicating with broadsheet-reading (in this case the Guardian) adults in this way. Is the British public so devoid of empathy that they have to have a personal relationship with a child before they are willing to hand over a few quid a month?

For me there is far more value in treating grown up issues in a grown up way. There have been plenty of charity campaigns which successfully explained complex issues quickly and effectively without treating potential supporters like children. I hope Action Aid wake up to this. You can’t offset your guilt or responsibility with this kind of ‘quick fix’. It doesn’t work.

And don’t even get me started on the charities that let you go and visit your sponsored child…

[By the way, the ad is also a very poorly designed by Action Aid’s usually high standards. I wonder if they offset their own guilt by not even doing this stuff in-house.]

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