Tell me this video doesn’t make you laugh and also think about African stereotypes in the media.
The Radi-aid website asks: “Imagine if every person in Africa saw the “Africa for Norway” video and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway?”
And by the way, I love that the Norwegian aid agency helped fund this video. I also love the tiny bouncing radiator that guides us through the subtitled lyrics starting at 02:24. It’s the details that count.
Be sure to read about the four things that Radi-aid wants, including fundraising not based on exploiting stereotypes. The Radi-aid website also offers up some cringe-worthy videos that inspired the “Africa for Norway” shoot, such as “Do they know it’s Christmas” by Band aid 1984. That song is going into heavy rotation here on U.S. radio stations with Christmas coming. I wish they would stop. I believe it’s one of the worst songs/stories/videos out there for perpetuating African stereotypes.
Director of Emergency Media and Communications at Save the Children in Washington, D.C., or Westport, CT
The Director will plan and execute successful communications and marketing strategies primarily in support of our Priority Result 1 programs (Emergencies and Child Protection), working closely with the Disaster and Humanitarian Response (DHR) unit, global emergency team and country office staff. This person will be responsible for developing and implementing marketing and communications strategies that help to promote Save the Children’s response to emergencies through traditional and social media outlets and to support all related fundraising and policy initiatives. These communications efforts will be designed to inform (and engage) the American public, Save the Children donors and supporters, media and other key stakeholders about Save the Children’s emergency relief and recovery programs, as well as advocacy campaigns, corporate marketing partnerships, celebrity spokespeople and other activities that relate to this program area.
Field Communications Officer at Medair in Antananarivo, Madagascar
On a day-to-day basis the Field Communication Officer works to actively support communications and fundraising at HQ by providing and facilitating relevant and timely information for Medair’s communication and fundraising activities. The Field Communication Officer also leads and advises the field teams in dealing with external communication, monitors visibility in the field, and supports the internal communications of the country programme. For the programmes in Madagascar, the Field Communication Officer also actively leads the internal communication and is the focal point for the knowledge management system.
The writer/editor will create PIH-focused content for use in print and electronic formats, particularly the PIH website. As part of the Communications team, the writer/editor will participate in editorial planning, editing content from Communications team members and PIH staff, and serve as back-up producer to PIH social media platforms.
Communications and Web Consultant (part-time) at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in Bethesda, MD
This part-time consultant will work as part of an integrated and well-coordinated global marketing and resource mobilization team to implement targeted communications and outreach strategies, strengthen SNV USA’s web and social media presence, and work with the Communications Officer on various projects. The candidate would also work in media relations, managing the organization’s contacts and relationships and supporting overall communications and partnership development.
Communications Officer at Rockefeller Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya
The Communications Officer is a member of the Office of Communications (headquartered in New York) and will be the main point person in the Africa region for all communications needs, ensuring alignment to the global strategy across functions. The position is based in Nairobi and reports to the Associate Director of Communications in New York with a dotted reporting line to the Regional Managing Director, Africa.
Communications Specialist – Somali Youth Leaders Initiative at Mercy Corps in Somalia
The Communications Specialist will lead the implementation of Somali Youth Leaders Initiative’s external communications strategy in Somalia, encompassing the development, positioning, presentation and content of youth-focused and issues oriented stories, photos, messaging and multimedia for key public, donor, media, UN and NGO engagement platforms (primarily Mercy Corps websites and external social media). This position will also build the capacity of field offices across Somalia to produce quality and timely communications resources (stories, photos, video and other), both proactively and on demand – resulting in the strong and sustained branding of their key activities, as well as the external communications of Mercy Corps Somalia’s key programming issues and concerns. Learn more.
Health Communications Director at Chemonics in Washington, D.C.
Chemonics seeks a senior health communications director for an anticipated USAID-funded opportunity to support innovation and improve sustainability in the field of health communication. This position will support USAID missions and bureaus in addressing behavior change toward key health-related behaviors, including family planning use, uptake of HIV counseling and testing, condom use, bed-net use, and hand washing. We are looking for individuals who have a passion for making a difference in the lives of people around the world.
Communications Advisor at Pathfinder International in Nairobi, Kenya
Reporting to the Country Representative and collaborating closely with different program directors, the Communications Advisor is a key member of project management teams. S/he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Pathfinder internal and external communications including development, design and dissemination of Pathfinder Kenya written and audiovisual communication materials. In charge of the overall communications strategy, s/he will develop and implement this strategy and manage communications to various audiences including stakeholders, partners and funders. S/he will provide communications support to staff working within projects and ensure that communication products meet standards of Pathfinder International. S/he will lead the production of success stories for use on the Pathfinder website with the support of the Web Content editor at the Headquarters Office.
Hi there, dear readers. How’ve you been? So sorry about the long delay between posts. Life got busy and something had to give, so it was blogging. But I’m back now! Here are some stories I’ve been reading and programs I’ve been experimenting with, all in the name of becoming a better storyteller:
USAID and FHI360 recently created a toolkit for using low-cost video in agricultural development. I first saw this kit presented at a meeting over the summer and thought it was applicable to non-ag projects; I still feel the same way. My only critique is the kit desperately needs a discussion of ethics and consent.
For the past few months I’ve sporadically experimented with Prezi, which is basically a PowerPoint presentation that zooms in, out and around. It’s cool-looking, much more engaging than PowerPoint — and more time-consuming to create, in my opinion. Doesn’t help with the presentation’s substance, unfortunately.
(This is a guest post from Isaiah Brookshire, a writer, photographer, and globally-focused multimedia storyteller specializing in cultural and humanitarian storytelling. You can learn more about him on his website: www.isaiahbrookshire.com)
When an NGO hires a freelance photographer, usually the photographer will present the NGO with a contract detailing things like licenses, copyright, usage, etc. But unless your have a background in commercial media, some of terms can be confusing. Today I want to talk about my experience presenting non-profits with contracts and discuss some of the terms that cause the most confusion.
Before I go any further I should mention that I’m not a lawyer and this doesn’t constitute legal advice. Even though I once thought about becoming an attorney (and then decided I just wouldn’t know what to do with all that money), all I can offer is stories from my personal experience. I should also note that this isn’t a comprehensive list of terms you might find in photography contracts, just a starting place.
Wait, am I buying these photos?
Getting photos from photographers is simple; they take the photos, you pay for them, and then those photos are yours to do with as you like. Sound good? I’m afraid not. With some photographers this might be the case but with the majority of professional photographers, you will find that what you are paying for isn’t the photo but a license to use it.
“Hold on, I just flew a photographer halfway around the world to shoot for my organization and the photos aren’t even mine?” Yep, in most cases the photographer will retain the copyright on the photos and only license them to your organization. (Side note: there is such a thing as a copyright buyout where photographers sell their images lock, stock, and barrel, but these can be very, very expensive.)
Okay, so what is a license?
A license (in the photography sense) basically sets out the conditions under which an image can be used. The usage and license section of my basic contract looks like this:
This part of my contract provides my clients with five important pieces of information:
How they can use my images
How many times they can use my images
Where (geographically) they can use my images
How long they can use my images
The notes section allows me to grant further rights or put more stipulations on usage
Most photography contracts should provide similar information (though they may use different terms and look very different). From here I want to talk about each section of my contract and the particular pitfalls I’ve encountered along the way. Hopefully it will give you a general idea of what to look for when dealing with photographers and help you understand how changes to contracts can affect the final price you pay for the images.
How can I use this image?
One of the first things I tell my clients is how my photos can be used. I could permit my images to be used in print but not online or I could allow clients to use my photos for editorial projects but not advertising. The way the images are used can affect how much I charge. For instance, using an image on a run of 5,000 flyers won’t cost the same as using it on a run of 100,000 magazines.
How many times can I use this image?
This section of my contract sometimes causes confusion because clients are unsure how it differs from the section before it. Using the magazine example, they wonder if 100,000 magazines constitutes one usage or 100,000 usages. To make it easier to understand, I tell my clients to think of a usage as a project. When I say that they can usean image 15 times, what I mean is that they can use that image on 15 different projects. Note: Not all photographers define their terms the same way I do. Always make sure you understand their contracts before signing on.
Where can I use this image?
Many professional photographers make the bulk of their income from image licenses; not from the “photographer’s rate” or “day rate” they charge to actually shoot those images. That means granting different licenses in different geographic regions helps them to boost their bottom line. For instance, I shoot photos for a Canadian-based NGO that works with rural Peruvians. If I granted them an exclusive license for North America on a set of images, I could still grant a UK based non-profit an exclusive license for Europe on those same images. Understanding where you need to use your images can help you lower the cost of photography (as a license for one continent or country should cost less than worldwide usage). Note: Be sure to ask your photographer how they treat the Internet when it comes to geographic license.
When can I use this image?
The final piece of information I always put on my contracts is when the image can be used. In this section I tell my clients how long their license is good for. It can be as short as a few days, as long as several years, or even perpetual (if they pay enough). This section could also tell my clients if there was a date they could not use the image before, as in the case of an embargo. Which brings me to…
This final part of the license section on my contract is where I can add any number of extra privileges or conditions. I’ll run down a list of some common items that might appear here.
Exclusivity: If I grant an exclusive license to the client, that means I can’t sell those images to someone else. Often exclusive licenses will include a caveat that allows me to use the images in my portfolio, blog, etc. Embargo: Often a client doesn’t need (or can’t afford) an exclusive license. In that case they might ask for an embargo. This allows them to use the images first — before I post them on my portfolio or sell them to someone else — but doesn’t cost as much as an exclusive license. Transferable Rights: One NGO I worked with was closely associated with a sustainable travel company. They wanted to know if the images I shot for them could also be used to promote that company (i.e. were the rights transferable). I could have granted the NGO transferable rights but together we decided it would be easier to come up with a separate contract for each organization.
I know, I know, for a busy and growing NGO — especially one without a full-time media manager — photographic licenses can seem complicated. Unfortunately there isn’t a standard contract in this industry though efforts have been made to homogenize the terms.
However, I think a well written contract, one that covers all the concepts mentioned above, offers a great advantage to both photographers and their clients. It lets NGO’s know exactly what they are getting and won’t leave them wondering how they can use the delivered images.
If you want to dive deeper into this issue, I highly recommend John Harrington’s book “Best Business Practices for Photographers.” It is written to photographers but offers helpful insight and resources to anyone who deals with photography contracts.
Here are 10 job opportunities for everyone from editors to storytellers to people with web skills. I’m noticing that more job descriptions request applicants with photo and video skills. I take that as a good sign that organizations recognize the need for strong visuals. Good luck job hunting!
Online Content Coordinator at Pathfinder International in Watertown, MA
The Online Content Coordinator is responsible for producing a range of materials for Pathfinder’s online presence that highlight our programmatic successes, strengths and results. This includes all website content (programmatic write-ups, news, videos, and interactive elements). In addition, the coordinator plays a large role in online strategy, social media outreach, blogging, web analytics, design, and new media productions.
Regional Communications Coordinator for The Lutheran World Federation in Nairobi, Kenya
The Regional Communications Coordinator of the (new) LWF/DWS Regional Support Unit, based in Nairobi, Kenya shall be responsible to and report directly to the Resource Mobilization Officer/ Head of Communications in Geneva for programmatic matters and to the local LWF/DWS Kenya/Djibouti Country Representative in Nairobi for administrative matters.
1. Experience: Three to five years practical experience in the field of journalism, preferably in the area of international humanitarian and development programs. Extensive knowledge of the region.
2. Education: A degree in journalism or related field.
3. Personal Attributes: Cultural sensitivity and adaptability. High degree of integrity and professional responsibility. Diplomatic skills.
4. Professional skills: Experience in web-writing, editing, media planning, communications training and working in emergencies and coordinating coverage of field programs. Excellent English writing and editorial skills. Strong oral, facilitation and networking skills. Proactive and flexible work style. Capable of identifying and responding to shifting priorities. Political awareness and in-depth knowledge of editorial processes. English will be the main working language; knowledge in French would be an asset. Experience with and commitment to working in a very diverse workforce. Ability and affinity for working in teams. Ability to travel in the region at short notice.
5. Commitment and ability to train national staff
6. Deep commitment to LWF’s core values and ability to work by those values in relationships with colleagues and partners
Resident Journalism Advisor for Internews in Ethiopia
Internews is seeking a Resident Advisor candidate for a potential program in Ethiopia. The 3-6 month program will pilot a Humanitarian Information Service (HIS) to create programming tailored for the information needs of refugees in partnership with the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Resident Advisor will provide consistent and high standard editorial oversight, training and mentoring and management support in a sensitive context. S/he is an experienced broadcast professional, especially in remote, post-conflict environments.
Haiti Communications Coordinator at Partners in Health in rural Haiti
The Haiti Communications Coordinator will facilitate both internal and external communications with regard to Partners In Health activities in Haiti. The position will report jointly to the Senior Program Manager in Haiti and to the Manager of Public Communications and work in close collaboration with Haiti Program Coordinators and the Boston communications and advocacy teams to provide broader context and to frame issues appropriately. The Communications Coordinator will be responsible for writing articles on PIH or Zanmi Lasante (“ZL”) activities, profiling staff members, assisting with reports for donors, website articles, brochures and PIH bulletins. The Communications Coordinator will also stay informed of national and international policies and issues related to reconstruction in Haiti and will keep the PIH Haiti team updated on these issues. Additionally the incumbent will work with the team in Haiti and in Boston to coordinate media-related visits to Partners In Health sites.
Copy Editor at Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore, MD
In collaboration with the Copy Editor II, acts as a line editor and gatekeeper for the Charitable Giving Division’s editorial process. Supports the Senior Editor and the division’s editorial staff to produce quality, on-point information about CRS’ work and mission to approximately 500,000 (in print and online) CRS supporters in the United States monthly. Substantively edits, proofreads, checks facts and organizes print and electronic communications projects for timely dissemination. Copy Editor I will use editorial skills, judgment and knowledge of agency values and mission to ensure accurate and compelling content, and consistent use of grammar, style and voice in keeping with best practices and the CRS editorial calendar and guidelines.
Regional Communications Officer, Southeast Asia & Ukraine at Clinton Health Access Initiative in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The Regional Communications Officer (RCO) will work closely with the Regional Director, Director of Regional Operations, Country Directors and program staff across all 5-country offices to ensure the overall success of program implementation specifically in the areas of communications, reporting, knowledge management, development and donor management. In addition, the RCO will work closely with Global Communications and Development staff to ensure consistency in approach across all of these areas.
The position will be based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with expected travel within the region approximately 40% of the time.
Communications Officer/Technical Analyst at Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative in Kilwa Masoko, Lindi, Tanzania
We are looking for a dynamic technical writer / conservation scientist with the ability to think outside the box and contribute to a diverse programme of practical conservation, community develpment and technical monitoring. Excellent communication skills are a must and should be combined with strong analytical ability. This is a cross disciplinary role: candidates with a varied skill-set and experiences will be preferred to those from a straight biological background. Substantial prior experience is not a pre-requisite – this position would be suitable for those early in their career – but the candidate must be able to demonstrate their raw talent in communications. Candidates who show the potential for developing into a full technical adviser will be preferred.
Media and Public Engagement Coordinator at Just Vision in Jerusalem, Israel
The Media and Public Engagement Coordinator in Israel will be responsible for building relationships with Israeli press, bloggers and strategic community partners to bring nonviolent efforts to end the occupation and resolve the conflict into popular discourse in Israel. The Coordinator will work with the Communications and Production Manager and the Outreach and Programming Coordinator to implement communications strategies in order to reach key Israeli audiences and generate support for grassroots nonviolence leaders and movements. S/he will act as the point person for Israeli media, by producing press materials, responding to media requests, acting as a spokesperson and proactively reaching out to media outlets. S/he will be responsible for implementing the Hebrew social media and online communications strategy. Additionally, the Coordinator will devise and implement a community engagement strategy by organizing events, acting as an organizational spokesperson and building relationships with community leaders.
Communications Officer – Regional Learning and Advocacy Programme for Vulnerable Dryland Communities at Oxfam in Nairobi, Kenya
You will produce a bi-monthly e-bulletin of good practice and policy documents and key events for NGOs, donors, international organisations and governments. Update the key information sources and gaps on dry land development and key statistics on dry land areas, actively seeking new sources of information. Overseeing the design and printing of REGLAP materials including the bi-annual journal, technical briefs, good practice guidance, studies and policy briefs. Manage the REGLAP webpage and its improvements in collaboration with FAO. Participate in discussions of the DRR website to ensure dry land good practice and policy materials are easily accessible. Maintain and update contact lists for REGLAP partners, donors and government and e-bulletin distribution.
Online Communications Officer - Consultative Group to Assist the Poor at The World Bank in Washington, DC
We are looking for the right person to help build CGAP’s online presence by acting as Managing Editor for cgap.org, and actively contributing to CGAP’s comprehensive Web communications and digital strategy. The ideal candidate will be an experienced Web editor with a strong background in driving content strategy, working with technical specialists. Strong writing skills, Web site content management experience, the ability to work independently, and a strong track record in running effective Web marketing campaigns are requirements for this position.
You’re sent to the field to take pictures and get quotes from project participants. The story runs on your organization’s blog and then you never again see those assets — the photographs, quotes, soundbites and video you produced. All that work, just for one blog post?
No. I’m a big believer in ensuring story components are used in more than one way. Here are some ideas based on my work at Bread for the World and what little relevant research I’ve found about social media, storytelling and nonprofits (hint, hint, communications researchers, we need your help).
1. Pictures in Facebook fundraising campaigns
One of the pictures from the Facebook component of Bread for the World’s recent fundraising campaign, a collaborative effort between me and two of my colleagues. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
It’s a fact of NGO life that one of the main reasons we collect photographs is to use them for fundraising. Raising money through social media is on the rise, usually with pictures, but you can’t just superimpose text on a photograph, upload it to Facebook and expect money to roll in.
I recently collaborated with Bread for the World’s Mallory Moser, the online fundraising manager, and Jeannie Choi, the online editor, to create a Facebook component to our recent email and print fundraising campaign. It was our first time experimenting with this and I won’t lie — it was a bit of work. I researched picture possibilities while Jeannie and Mallory worked on finding quotes and writing simple text to Photoshop onto the pictures. We also thought about picture size: Should the photo be a square, so it shows up perfectly in everyone’s new FB layout feed, or should it be more banner-like, so people would have to click on the picture to see the whole thing? We chose the latter.
I designed three picture ads, which took me about four hours, but we axed one and I created a replacement because the original photo/text combination looked weird. Lessons I learned or re-learned from this campaign:
1. People love pictures of babies.
2. Create a URL exclusive to the Facebook campaign so you can track metrics.
3. You should always have someone or some people look over your design.
4. Collaboration is key. You will often create something better together than on your own.
2. Stories in emails
As long as we’re on the subject of fundraising, let’s talk about using stories in fundraising emails.
Last year at Bread for the World we inadvertently experimented with this. I had approached Mallory about focusing on real stories in our year-end email fundraising campaign. She agreed it was a good idea, so she and I and my former colleague Molly Marsh settled on four stories Molly and I had reported on during 2011. Each story would become one email that described a certain person and his/her struggle with hunger or poverty. Each email also had a picture that linked to a photo gallery. We spent a few weeks writing and editing, and editing through photographs. Read more »
Editing is hard work, so we’re taking cues on the topic from the NGO world and beyond.
Screen grab of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, her dad and brother from SoundPortraits.org’s “The Ground We Lived On.”
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc is best known as the author of “Random Family,” a 10-year documentation of life in the ghetto. That in itself is the start of an extraordinary editing fact (how do you cut 10 years of notes into a readable, bestselling book?) but for another time. As “Random Family” gained more and more attention, LeBlanc’s dad was dying of cancer. She visited her dad often, and taped conversations with him until he died.
The 40 hours of audio interviews and 70 pages of text took two years of editing to become a 12-minute radio documentary, “The Ground We Lived On.” LeBlanc said in a Mediabistro interview in 2006, “The structuring of a radio piece is very interesting. It was really hard because literally, we took pages and pages and we had one sentence like, ‘Language is the ground we walked on, and we were speaking even as he was leaving me.’ There were all these haphazard thoughts, and it took forever to get down to that sentence.”
Nyla Rodgers founded Mama Hope after traveling to Kenya to meet a young man her late mom had sponsored. Since then, Nyla has built California-based Mama Hope into an NGO that partners with local organizations across Africa, raising funds for health, education, agriculture and water projects identified by local communities. Mama Hope recently received media attention for its “Stop the Pity, Unlock the Potential” video campaign, which strives to change perceptions about Africans and Africa. Nyla hopes to turn the campaign into a movement even as Mama Hope expands into training development workers.
Your three “Stop the Pity, Unlock the Potential” videos have gone viral and started many conversations about African stereotypes. Describe how the campaign came about and why.
From the very beginning when we decided to start this organization, I thought hard about the marketing and I realized that I did not want to show any kinds of flies in eyes. I didn’t want to show any swollen bellies. The whole entire point of this organization is to inspire people to give instead of making them feel guilty or using pity as a ploy.
We really believe that in order to really eliminate poverty, you can’t keep putting out that image of poverty over and over again like nothing is changing and not showing progress. I think when nonprofits look at their marketing, they leave out a lot of the progress and a lot of the potential because they’re trying to get donations. What we want to do is trust that our donors are inspired and they want to see people flourish.
Where do you find the people for your videos?
Every single person who is in our videos is someone that we work with. Alex is a student at one of our schools that we built. He was just talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger because he knew the he was our (California’s) governor at the time. And he launched into this 20-minute diatribe about his favorite movie. I used to run summer camp here in the United States and the kids were all just like Alex. They loved to tell me about their favorite things and I hoped that anyone that would watch it would just see a nine-year-old boy anywhere in the world talking about something that he loved.
“Call Me Hope” was a lot more premeditated. Every single person in that film is someone that we work with. We call it the family album of Mama Hope. The Americans (in the film) are our donors. They all were really excited. We shot all the scenes in Africa first and when we came back to the United States we matched the people. We wanted to show the connection between the donors and the people we help and how similar they are to each other.
Your videos are not like many typical NGO videos. This is participatory storytelling.
We decided that the way you really stop the pity is you don’t have the white person in front of all the Africans talking about them. Instead you have people tell their own stories. And so, we want our videos to have participants, not subjects.
With this most recent video, which is the closest to my heart, we were showing “Alex” to boys who I have known – Bernard is the original orphan my mom sponsored, and this was him and his friends. They saw “Alex presents: Commando” and they loved it and they said they wanted to make their own, and we asked them, “Well, what do you want to make a video about?” And they said, “We want to make it about African men.” And so we worked with them to kind of figure out something that we felt would appeal to an audience but also would tell their story.
How did you obtain copyright to the movie clips for the Alex video, the African men video and the Paul Simon music for the “Call Me Hope” video?
We did not obtain the rights and felt that if anyone was going to come after us it would be great publicity.
What was the response – if any – from Schwarzenegger or Paul Simon?
We did not get any response from these men. I hope some day we will.
What do the people who are in the videos think about the videos?
Oh, they’re so excited. When we told Alex I don’t think he really understood it. We said, “Alex, half a million people have seen you tell the story about ‘Commando.’” And you know, I don’t think he can really comprehend that. The boys in the last video (“African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes.”), you know, they’re so excited. They’re very excited to connect with people.
Your videos are all high-production quality. About how much money and time do you spend on each one from conception to completion?
So what’s wonderful is people are donating their time. We haven’t had to really pay anything besides the trips to Africa. “Call Me Hope” took about 2 months. The Alex video took at least 3 months to do. And then this most recent video, the editor looked through 80 hours of film. So that was 7 months.
How did you find these volunteers? Quality work usually costs money.
You really get people to believe in what you’re doing. Joe (Sabia) – who is the editor – he knew what would really appeal to audiences. We shot the video of Alex, and Joe had never seen “Commando” before, but I showed him the footage and I was like, you have to watch “Commando” and then watch the footage again. Because he was like, “I don’t know what we have here.” And then he watched “Commando” and he was like, “That kid said every single thing like word for word.” He just loved it so much that he donated his time.
You just said to Joe, “Take a look at this and tell me what you think.”
What we actually wanted to do at the time was a day in the life series, where we just showed day in the life videos in Africa. And we just couldn’t get it together while we were there. So we came back and we made that video.
It sounds like the Alex video wasn’t a planned part of the “Stop the Pity” campaign.
The Alex video is what spurred the campaign. We wanted to kind of like hit people in the gut and give them something totally different where they didn’t know where this was going. And so, when we got the footage all put together, we were like, what is the message here? What are people going to think when they’re watching it? And then we decided on “Stop the Pity, Unlock the Potential.”
Did you come up with that tagline yourself?
It was definitely an in-house thing. We’ve always said we don’t want a pity ploy. That’s always something we said in the office.
Why did you decide on video versus audio or picture or word stories?
Mainly because I really don’t like to write. I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and do that. I’d much rather put it in someone else’s hands and do it in a medium that can get everywhere.
What’s been amazing is we have found our videos all over the world. One of my favorite things is that we heard that the Alex video was being used in Kenya – there’s a lot of prejudice against Tanzanians in Kenya. They believe they can’t speak English. So this Kenyan organization was using it to show that Tanzanians know how to speak English.
Do you know what the organization is?
I do not know. Someone random sent it to me, sent me a message about it. So even in Africa they’re using this video to stop stereotypes. So it is resonating with people and it’s exciting.
What other video campaigns are you planning and what are your plans for the organization?
Right now what we really want to do is create a movement around this. We really want “Stop the Pity” to be at the heart of everything we do. I want other nonprofits to jump on board. I believe they already have the footage. They just chose not to use it.
We’re getting ready to expand our organization into an institute to train development workers. We want to make kind of like a modern-day Peace Corps, like Peace Corps 2.0. Every single person who goes through our program will raise $20,000 – $50,000 for a project that is requested by a community. They will go and live in that community and work alongside them in the way that we do. We’ve been piloting it for the last year-and-a-half. We have two projects that are completely functioning and two being built. We’re accepting applications for July and then launching the program in October.
How long do people have to fundraise and then how long are they out in the field?
They have three months to raise the bulk of the amount that they need, so we’re going to have a 3-month training period. And then they will do a fundraising campaign and go live in the community for the next 3 months. They work alongside that community. Then for the third 3 months they come back and they mentor someone else to do the same. Our vision is that it’s going to be people straight out of college or in Masters programs. But there are also people that are wanting to switch careers and do something in the nonprofit world.
What’s so amazing is that through our videos people have seen the words “global advocate” on our website and we’ve had hundreds of people write us about the global advocates program.
These advocates – are you teaching them how to push out stories and content, too?
That’s going to be a huge part of it. We’re going to be saying, again, we do not want flies in eyes, we do not want distended bellies. We want you to go out there and find stories that people can relate to. And that’s going to be a huge part of their responsibility.
So how do you think NGOs can get away from telling clichéd stories?
They have to make the choice to do it. We have not raised a lot of money from this campaign. We haven’t. Probably in total we’ve raised maybe about $12,000 from all three videos and we’ve had over one million views with all of them together. I really think it starts with the nonprofits and unfortunately it’s in the hands of donors first and foremost. So, if they start giving more to organizations that are really trying to show a different side, then that will be good.
What has been the response from your donors?
Our donors love it. They knew what they were getting into at the beginning when they decided to be part of this organization. We’re secure in the fact that we know the work that we’re doing is really impactful.
How many more videos do you have in this campaign?
I think this is going to be an indefinite campaign. I want to see if we can create community around this. I’d like to have a bunch of people with a “Stop the Pity” outcry. I’ve had really interesting people come to me to get advice about how to make their own “Stop the Pity” video but I haven’t seen them take that risk. A lot of people are starting to get a lot more creative and so I’m looking forward to seeing that.
Being an aid worker is not easy, and that comes across more than clearly in these Médecins Sans Frontieres blog posts by Trish Newport. She’s a Canadian nurse in Chad on her 5th MSF mission. From the challenges of treating malnutrition in remote villages to the challenge of accidentally locking herself in an outhouse, Trish writes frankly about her work and her life, which is why I’m recommending her posts. This is an organizational blog — not a personal one — that honestly depicts aid worker life. Trish is leaving Chad soon and I’ll miss her stories. But I look forward to reading about her next MSF mission, if she does one.