Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Are you angry?

It might be better if you say so, publicly

A recent report in the UK charities magazine Third Sector bore a message worth considering not just by charities but by anyone concerned with services for disabled children and adults, and their families, everywhere.

‘Charities should get angry a bit more', ran the headline. They should even consider bad language.

Charities should consider being more angry and more outspoken in their communications, said Tony Elischer at the International Fundraising Conference in the Netherlands. In the future, he said, charities would need to engage with how people communicate in the real world.

'Real people are gritty, direct, outspoken and rebellious,' he said. 'It wouldn't be a bad thing for us to get angry a bit more.'

He offered the Bollocks To Poverty campaign by the international development charity ActionAid, as example of a charity’s effective use of bad language.

SOFII’s view

The Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration also approves:

This is a very brave campaign. It talks directly to young people in the language they use everyday and fearlessly makes the issues of poverty relevant and personal for young people, with no punches pulled. It’s a delight to see a charity with such an urgent cause taking this line – full marks to those who created the campaign and a smidge of credit too to their managers and trustees for allowing it to go ahead, undiluted.

How it happened

In 2002 ActionAid won the opportunity to be the main charity presence at Reading Music Festival and were looking for a slogan to sum up ActionAid’s mission and purpose in a way that would appeal to young festival-goers. A young ActionAid volunteer piped up and said “Why don’t you just say Bollocks to Poverty?” and the ‘Bollocks to Poverty’ campaign was born.

No suits, no ‘creatives’, no po-faced, expensive, specious, unfelt slogan. One can think of some countries in which such in-your-face campaigning might not work, but there are others in which it surely would.

Revitalising the message

Advertising and public relations for Conductive Education are worthy enough but is worthiness all that is required to get the message out. Disability, the plight of parents the fight for services, are not all fun and frollicks.

There is a hard edge to the whole Conductive Education enterprise. It is not just the energy the hard work and the personal sacrifice involved, the hope and the inspiration and endeavour. There is also the ‘other side’: the obduracy of the opposition, and yes, even the stupidity and insensitivity and the sheer bloody nastiness sometimes met from those paid to help. Should all this really be glossed over? Might not bringing it up front actually win the interest and admiration, and even their anger and indignation.

Fundraising and PR are of course only part of the story. There is so much to be done to heave Conductive Education and the issues that it represent into the public consciousness.
But do look at some of the other campaigns featured by SOFFI, and wonder what list most CE image-making might feature.

Bollocks to Poverty

It seems unlikely that something like ‘Young People’s Campaign against Global Poverty’ would have generated quite the same excitement.


SOFII (2009) ActionAid ‘Bollocks to poverty’ campaign

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