Development Aid: How Do You Convince the Public that Progress is Possible?

David Hudson, Molly Anders

Feb 10, 2020

Development Aid: How Do You Convince the Public that Progress is Possible?

In this video, Professor David Hudson offers a glimpse into the public's evolving perceptions of aid, as well as the aid climate which brought about the foundational questions for the Development Engagement Lab and its ancestor, the Aid Attitudes Tracker:

  • Between 2013 and 2018, the Aid Attitudes Tracker - a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, University College, London, the University of Birmingham, the University of Texas at Dallas and YouGov - surveyed 8,000 people across the UK, France, Germany and the US every six months. Participants were asked over 100 questions in each wave, and researchers conducted in-depth focus groups and side experiments to explore particular areas of interest.
  • In 2015, the UK government committed 0.7% of gross national income to foreign aid, introducing landmark legislation and setting the bar for other aid donors. Despite negative attention in the press, the move garnered widespread and unexpected public support, raising new questions about how public attitudes toward aid evolve and react to world events.
  • Buoyed by fresh interest from the charity and NGO sector and an expanded scope, the Gates Foundation, UCL, University of Birmingham and YouGov launched the Development Engagement Lab to dig deeper into public attitudes toward aid in the UK, France, Germany and the United States. The new scope meant researchers could begin to experiment with new and different modes of engagement, with the goal of painting a more comprehensive picture of the public's relationship with aid and global poverty.
  • Among the team's most groundbreaking findings are an examination of the public's low tolerance for corruption and the effectiveness of aid organisations' tactics in tackling public mistrust. In the video, Professor Hudson also discusses the public's surprising resilience in its support for aid, and the unusual link between the use of emotionally troubling imagery in charity appeals and long-term giving.

Written by

David Hudson

David Hudson

Professor of Politics and Development in the University of Birmingham

Molly Anders

Molly Anders

Research Insights and Engagement Lead at the Development Engagement Lab

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