By Jennifer Lentfer of  9/9/14

By demonstrating how feedback works and why it’s important, communicators can help shape the global development narrative.

People are hungry to change international organizations’ communications strategies so that their public face is no longer at odds with their programs and their mission.

How do I know? Because the publication, The Development Element: Guidelines for the future of communicating about the end of global poverty, has already been viewed over 3,500 times – in just its draft form. I and my “International Development Communications” class at the Georgetown University Public Relations & Corporate Communications Master’s Program wrote the publication at the end of last semester, based on our inquiry and analysis of how we could paint a fuller picture of the reality of people’s lives and how development and social change occurs.

Old communications strategies and simple narratives, which once grew out of a chartable fundraising model, can tear at people’s dignity and self-determination and ignore nuance. And an often missing part of that narrative is an international aid agency or NGO’s accountability to those whom they ultimately serve—people in living in poverty in poor countries.

Demonstrating people’s involvement and decision-making as a key aspect of successful programming is a communications strategy not often considered as a “tried and true” method of fundraising. But as donors increasingly want to see not just how well their money was spent, can’t demonstrating how feedback loops informed the projects become an important measure of success?

Communicators can help widen an organization’s accountability by creating space (and thus demand) for testimonies and feedback for people participating in an organization’s work in all of an organization’s public communications strategies and products.

For the public, what could be more convincing and accurate—and at the same time, engaging and emotional—than the feedback of people with whom an organization works?

Read more of the publication here:

Join the online conversation using #IntlDevCommsto explore howa new generation of development and communications professionals are attempting to embrace nuance without turning the public off.



ImageJennifer Lentfer writes, a blog on aid effectiveness and community development. You can follow her on Twitter at @intldogooder.

If your team or organization would like to engage further by hosting a discussion, staff training, etc, on the publication, please be in touch at jenlentfer (at) gmail (dot) com.

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