International development NGOs, representations in fundraising appeals and public attitudes in UK–Africa relations
in Britain and Africa in the twenty-first century
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This chapter examines how the images and representations used in fundraising appeals by international development non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have shaped UK public attitudes towards Africa, Africans and UK–Africa relations. Despite efforts at change, many charity appeals make widespread use of shocking images of African children, devoid of any broader context, in order to induce the viewer to donate. In doing so, they have helped produce a narrative around UK–Africa relations in which the UK public is cast as the ‘powerful giver’ and Africans are portrayed as ‘grateful receivers’. NGOs face a dilemma: negative representations allow organisations to raise funds that enable them to support vulnerable people in Africa and around the world; but they also negatively influence and shape attitudes of the British public towards poverty in Africa more generally. Through an analysis of a recent Oxfam campaign and reporting on new research using survey experiments, the chapter shows that by appealing to more positive emotions, such as hope and solidarity, NGOs can both raise funds for development work, and help to change the narrative around UK–Africa relations.

Britain and Africa in the twenty-first century

Between ambition and pragmatism


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