Think tank warns overseas development charities, ‘gone are the days of Live Aid'

Support for overseas aid and good causes focused on international development has plummeted over the last decade, according to latest research by think tank nfpSynergy.

Its research shows that while 16% of the public said that overseas aid was among their favourite causes in 2010, by 2020 this figure had dropped to 5%.

“Gone are the days of Live Aid and Make Poverty History attracting broad popular support and the fundraised income of many of the largest overseas charities has stagnated or declined in the last few years,” said nfpSynergy co-managing director Cian Murphy.

He adds that cuts by the government to overseas aid “have been generally popular with the public.

Its most recent survey of the public on the issue found that more than half (53%) believed that aid spending should be cut. This is marginally up on figures complied two years ago, when 51% of the public wanted to see aid cut.

Regarding the current government’s recent set of cuts two thirds (65%) were in favour. Among those in backing cuts, 41% acknowledged that reducing aid would have a negative impact on people’s lives.

“This is partly explained by the fact that most respondents (62%) agreed that while they support the international aid budget, they believe there is currently a greater need in the UK,” said Murphy in a blog on the public's views on overseas aid.

Factors in declining interest among the public in international aid include a pessimism that their donation will make a difference, based on a perceived lack of progress in recent years.

“So in other words, if people believe that no progress has been made in the past 20 years, they will not believe that you can make a difference in the next 20 years, said Murphy.

“The problem for overseas charities is that the large majority believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that no progress has been made in global poverty in recent years. Time and time again, focus group participants tell us that they have been supporting charities in poor countries for years and have not seen any change.”

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