Understanding public attitudes to aid and development
Published date: 25 Jun 2012
Download full publication
This report, the outcome of a joint project between IPPR and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), argues that while the UK government and public have historically been strong advocates of the international development agenda, there are clear signs that the consensus around the value of aid is starting to fray.
New findings based on analysis of a series of deliberative workshops conducted around the UK suggest that the financial crisis and recent spending cuts have diminished public support for increasing or even maintaining current levels of UK aid spending. There are high levels of concern about waste and inefficiency in the distribution of aid, and it appears that this has been reinforced by some of the communications and fundraising images used by NGOs and governments. The repeated use of images that show people living in desperate need has created an impression that very little has changed over the past few decades.
Click here to download more details of the discourse analysis conducted by Linguistics Landscapes on the deliberative workshop discussions.
However, this research has also revealed considerable appetite for greater understanding of development and for more complex stories of how change and progress happens. Instead of a simple reassurance that ‘aid works’, people would like to hear about how and why it works, why it doesn’t always work and the reasons aid alone cannot achieve development targets. Process and progress stories will both be core to winning sustainable public support for aid and development in the future.
The main recommendations of the report are that:
- NGOs and government need to better understand the impact of their communication strategies on public opinion, and design fundraising appeals and other campaign communications in ways that do not risk further undermining public support for aid in the medium to long term. Care should also be taken to ensure messages reinforce moral commitments to what is right and fair rather than relying on more self-interested messages,
- Campaigns should do more to communicate how change can and does happen in developing countries, including the role aid can play in catalysing or facilitating this change.
- Campaigns and communication strategies could do more to link debates about ‘responsible capitalism’ to the challenges facing developing countries.
- Greater public engagement could generate productive debates about the UK’s international development objectives and priorities, as well as increased public support for aid and development.
Will Straw, Associate Director for Climate Change, Energy and Transport
Alex Glennie, Associate Fellow
Author(s) : Alex Glennie - 25 Jun 2012
You may be interested in...
IPPR in the news
UK higher education: let's not follow the leader but develop our own vision
The Guardian - 22 May 2013Mervyn King's housing warning is too little, too late
The Guardian - 21 May 2013Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond trade insults in battle of nationalists
The Guardian - 20 May 2013Local solutions are the key to full employment
New Statesman, Staggers blog - 20 May 2013
Exam fail kids are facing jobs woe
The Sun - 15 May 2013Will Ed Miliband be the Doctor Who of politics?
The Telegraph - 14 May 2013Labour will not be able to meet child poverty targets, says thinktank chief
The Guardian - 13 May 2013Slave-to-work dads ‘being squeezed out of family life,' says MP Jon Cruddas
Manchester Evening News - 13 May 2013
Laptop U: Has the future of college moved online?
The New Yorker - 13 May 2013Ed Cox on 'two-speed Britain'
Observer - 12 May 2013Francis Maude to consider fixed terms for top mandarins
Financial Times (£) - 12 May 2013Childcare reforms in chaos
Daily Mirror - 10 May 2013
Sarah Mulley on the Queen's speech (2 mins 55s)
Channel 4 News - 09 May 2013Queen's Speech 2013: Economist Attacks Immigration Curbs
Huffington Post - 09 May 2013Follow Macmillan and build, build, build
New Statesman - 08 May 2013School inspections deeply toxic, thinktank says
The Guardian - 08 May 2013
School League Tables Damaging To Students' Vocational Education, Warns IPPR
Huffington Post - 08 May 2013A common sense policy to create jobs and combat what ails Britain
The Independent - 07 May 2013250,000 children could suffer due to league table changes
The Telegraph - 07 May 2013Tories braced for big losses in council polls
The Guardian - 03 May 2013