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International development & aid policy communications

We shape humanitarian narratives, rebrand development NGOs, and manage coalitions.

International development

The international or global development sector is focused on addressing the causes and effects of poverty, and working with those in disadvantaged countries to move them up the ladder. However, the sector is not without its challenges, and that starts with the name. 

International development is well-intentioned but almost intrinsically disempowering as a concept, implying a top-down approach where expertise only flows one way. Many international development actors are rightly trying to change this, by being more intentional about how they engage the people they are there to serve (read how Save the Children think about that in this Getting Policy Unstuck article).

We help organisations who are trying to (or want to) change the way international development works, supporting them in making a positive impact for communities around the world. Our previous work in this space has included:

  1. Building a larger public humanitarian constituency
  2. Driving investment into climate adaptation

Challenges in the international development sector

Pressing global challenges that transcend national borders – from climate change to rising conflicts, poverty to pandemics – make humanitarian aid and technical assistance a crucial policy tool today. However, foreign aid is often subject to unhelpful narratives, preventing progress being made. 

The politicisation of aid

Aid funding is increasingly political. It is used when the political climate is advantageous, as we have seen with the international response to the full scale war in Ukraine. But it is often cut when public attention shifts, or indeed, never provided. Governments are often focused on short-term domestic wins, and turn a blind eye to the challenges of the future. For example, migration and displacement of peoples in at-risk areas will be a significant challenge if we don’t help communities adapt to climate change.

The undermining of diplomacy and democratic norms

We’ve seen major international treaties breached, violations of human rights, and access to humanitarian support prevented. This undermines the power of diplomacy and international cooperation, and raises the question of where NGO advocacy efforts are best placed (for example, advocating to politicians to reinforce failing treaties versus building coalitions with corporates to create more enduring support mechanisms for aid).

Narratives on the (in)effectiveness of development aid

The questions about the effectiveness of development aid have become more prominent over the past few years. Working with partners in the Global South, we often hear valid concerns on whether the funding is actually reaching the intended recipients, whether the funding contributes to systemic change, or delivers solutions suitable for local environments. 

International development communications consultancy

We have been working with clients to reframe issues in this policy space, including building a wider humanitarian engagement with the public and industry, and ensuring that local actors play a key role in project implementation and decision making. This has included: 

  1. Building a public constituency for humanitarian causes, engaging the private sector to raise the issue in the domestic political agenda for Save the Children UK. Case study
  2. Running a coalition-led campaign to drive investment into sustainable livestock production in Global South to help small and medium-size farmholders adapt to climate change. Case study
  3. Rebranding a global international development NGO, including new name, visual identity, positioning, and brand roll out.
  4. Creating and supporting the website for a green energy supplier who works to solve energy poverty in the Global South.
  5. Research and digital strategy for the Ocean Risk & Resilience Alliance (ORRAA), Washington D.C, who work to bring investment in local coastal communities.
  6. Creating a brand strategy for the Natural Resources Governance Institute (NRGI), New York
  7. Communications strategy for the Tunisian Economic Observatory, Tunis
  8. Campaign strategy, content development (social, paid), website design and build, media engagement for the Effective States and Inclusive Development programme at the University of Manchester

Discuss your international development challenge with Tom

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Use our creative in your funding application

We partner with NGOs, think tanks, and research organisations to co-pitch for funding from foundations in order to target a specific policy change.

If you have an idea for how to get a specific policy area unstuck, and you need campaigning or communications support with it, get in touch and we can discuss how we can work together to unlock funding for it.

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