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Tapping Creative Community To Help Change Conversation About Foreign Aid

I once remember asking an art director for an advertising agency whose firm produced a winning poster in competition designed to deter teens from driving after drinking what motivated him to enter.

His response, “No one ever asks us to use our creative skills for something like that. Especially not something that’s all about saving lives.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is hoping to similarly tap both the heads and hearts of the creative community to help change the narrative on foreign aid.” As part of a special “Grand Challenges” competition, the foundation plans to fund up to 10 “game-changing ideas” that creatively use communications to “motivate the public in the wealthy countries of the world to change their minds about aid, and take actions to demonstrate their support.”

According to Corrie Frasier, Senior Communications Officer, Innovation, the foundation launched this competition because of research showing that despite the fact that people in the United States and other donor countries believe foreign aid is “the right thing to do,” many of these same individuals also have misconceptions about how that money is spent.

As she explains in the accompanying video, Gates has used a competition framework over the past four years to discover unlikely partners who can bring new insights to seemingly intractable challenges in global health. But this marks the first time that Gates has used one of its Grand Challenges to tackle a communications quandary; one that Frasier admits the development community has struggled mightily with.

Video: Susan Herr, PhilanthroMedia


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