I love the new Christian Aid advert. I don’t know if any of you have seen it – filmed in Sierra Leone; it is upbeat, positive, and focuses on supporting communities to help themselves. What a pleasant change from the images of starving children and ill-equipped hospitals we are bombarded with in an effort to increase giving. Whilst nobody is denying that these things do happen, there is something to be said for avoiding compassion fatigue, and portraying a picture which goes beyond the only image many people have of the Global South, which shows only one side of the story.
I couldn’t be happier to see that charities are finally getting the message but what will be harder is getting donors on board. As Stephen Buckley, Head of Communications at Christian aid, noted, donors in the UK have a definite propensity to give more to help people survive, than to thrive. I would suggest that this is based on a lack of understanding on the part of many donors – and one which charities must play a part in combating – as to how economies grow. Certainly not by giving the bare minimum which will only go far enough to help the very poorest avoid starvation. Without funding for the creation of employment opportunities, support for entrepreneurs and new businesses, communities cannot support themselves, much less thrive. But thrive they must, if growth is, indeed, a key factor in development.
I applaud Christian Aid for showing another side to the same old sob-story we are so often told, and hope that other charities will begin to do the same. I would also encourage donors to look at the bigger picture. For me – the question of supporting survival versus the opportunity to thrive, comes down to the old proverb ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show a man how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime’. So let’s not just give fish. Let’s allow the fisherman to not only feed his family, but start a business, pass on his knowledge and create employment opportunities in his community.
What do you think? Would you rather give money to help people survive than to thrive? What do you think of Christian Aid’s new approach? We would love to know your views.