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Public Insight 2020: Finding the supporters of the future

3 December 2020

As support for international development falls in the UK, we urgently need to inspire potential supporters with powerful stories they can relate to, in the places where they go.

Over the last six years, the number of people donating to international development has fallen. At the same time, the political threat to development has grown, as more aid is geared to the UK’s “political, commercial and diplomatic interests”. But together we can change this.

Over the coming months Public Insight 2020 will provide the insights, tools and bold ideas to help you and the whole sector turn the tide. An initiative of the Campaign to Defend Aid and Development, and hosted by Bond, Public Insight 2020 will give you:

  • In-depth audience research with analysis from sector experts
  • Testing of messages and conversion rates with audiences
  • Powerful stories and tactics to use in your communications
  • Ambitious media partnerships we plan to broker to promote the idea of aid

By joining forces, we can help secure support for the sector, so that people around the world continue to get the life-changing, long-term support they need.

Identifying future supporters

As a first step, we have carried out in-depth research to define potential audiences who will be the new donors, campaigners and volunteers of the future. We have identified three audience subsets within a broader group of “marginally engaged” people. We have learned that these potential supporters are not opposed to international development, but it simply doesn’t come into their day to day thinking. If we focus on these groups, together we can inspire them to get involved.

Who they are

1. Stability seekers

(approx 1.2 million of the general population)

They believe charity should be small-scale and voluntary. They feel a moral duty to donate to humanitarian disasters, but have little understanding of long-term development.

2. Practical empaths

(approx 300,000 people)

These idealists struggle to understand why global issues haven’t already been solved, and mistrust big institutions as a result. They believe you should only give to a humanitarian disaster or to create self-sufficiency.

3. Principled pragmatists

(approx 700,000 people)

They are rational-minded people who accept the complexities of the world. They are most open to international development – and driven by a strong sense of fairness and justice.

Changing the conversation

These audiences don’t have strong opinions on aid, and are open to convincing evidence. Researchers found that, if we tell them stories that relate to their lives and interests, and through the channels they already use, many will decide to support our work.

To do this, we need to give them a stronger understanding of the power of development. We need to show them positive stories of empowerment, self-sufficiency and effectiveness. As a sector, we also need to overcome barriers to engagement, including the extent to which people’s lives feel too distant from those living in developing countries. We need to appeal to our shared values and common humanity.

What you can do

If we join together, we can tell a convincing and consistent story about international development to these people we have neglected. And we can speak to them in ways they relate to and in places they already go. As the work gathers momentum, we will be developing, testing and sharing messages and stories that work for these audience segments. And we will be creating bold and ambitious ideas to shift the national conversation on aid.

Let’s change the conversation. Here’s how you can get involved today:

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