Share

Public feels distrust and cynicism toward international aid agencies

Public feels distrust and cynicism toward international aid agencies
News

Public feels distrust and cynicism toward international aid agencies

Fundraising | Jenna Pudelek | 2 Jun 2014

Early findings from a study of responses to international humanitarian appeals suggest widespread donor fatigue and a “crisis” in the relationship between the public and NGOs.

The full report on the research, Public knowledge, reactions and moral actions in response to humanitarian issues, led by Irene Bruna Seu, a senior lecturer in psychosocial studies at Birkbeck University of London, is due to be published in September.

But an interim report, based on 18 demographically representative focus groups with 162 people and in-depth interviews, finds “clear evidence of marked and widespread public fatigue in response to humanitarian communications”.

While participants in the study responded sympathetically and empathetically to international humanitarian and development issues, the researchers found “blocks” that prevent people taking action, such as donating.   

“The fatigue might be primarily due to a crisis in the relationship between the public and NGOs rather than between the public and distant sufferers,” it says.

The report finds distrust in NGOs, their use of resources and their effectiveness.

Although most participants had donated to international humanitarian causes, the report shows they felt cynicism towards the charities and aid agencies and their actions towards both the people suffering abroad and the British public.

Participants were reluctant to make a long term commitment to support some NGOs through direct debits.

One-off donations to natural disasters, particularly through telethons, were the only form of monetary donations that participants responded to positively across all focus groups.

The majority of participants believed that man-made and ongoing humanitarian problems were endemic to the country in need, particularly in the case of African countries, the report says.

Participants also thought material contributions, such as food, tents, clothing, were better to money, because it was “more likely to reach people in need”, and would not end up “in the wrong hands” or “spent on administration costs”. They also showed a preference for fundraising events, giving time and signing petitions, over regular donations support.

It says participants also tended to prioritise giving help to those closest to them, including family and local communities.

The report says some participants said they found humanitarian appeals and campaigns “excessively traumatic and counterproductive”. They expressed concern for the suffering of other people, but the majority of participants “voiced strong negative emotions towards NGOs for their perceived manipulative intentions”.  

“The most widespread belief in regards to humanitarian and development issues was that ‘nothing ever changes’ and that humanitarian problems are intractable, chronic and stuck,” it says.

Read a blog by the report's authors on their findings here

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

CAN and Senscot part ways with UnLtd over its vision for a 'private-profit social sector'

18 Sep 2014

Social enterprise support organisations CAN and Senscot have ended their relationship with UnLtd, set...

Governance code 'no longer fit' for large charities, says CFG trustee

17 Sep 2014

The sector’s code of good governance is no longer fit for purpose for large and complex charities and...

Ring-fencing public service contracts for charities is a bad idea, NPC tells Labour

16 Sep 2014

NPC has warned that introducing charity-only contracts is the “wrong approach to take”, in its response...

Some charity leaders see themselves as ‘employees of government’

18 Sep 2014

Voluntary bodies and the state have become so intertwined that some charity leaders whose organisations...

Charity Commission launches inquiry into Worldwide Ummah Aid

18 Sep 2014

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Worldwide Ummah Aid after concerns that a trustee...

CAN and Senscot part ways with UnLtd over its vision for a 'private-profit social sector'

18 Sep 2014

Social enterprise support organisations CAN and Senscot have ended their relationship with UnLtd, set...

JustGiving page for Manchester Dogs’ Home receives four donations a second

15 Sep 2014

JustGiving has said that donations going to an appeal for the Manchester Dogs’ Home following an arson...

Commission's new online charity search to launch soon after delay

15 Sep 2014

The Charity Commission’s searchable online register of charities is due to launch in beta this autumn,...

Charities warned that digital campaigns can be 'counterproductive'

9 Sep 2014

Charity digital campaigns can be counterproductive and will need to change to keep the attention of those...

Join the discussion

Twitter button

@CSFundraising