The Aid Attitudes Tracker analysis has identified underlying perceptions which drive engagement with global poverty. As the perceptions of the driving factor changes this drives an increase or decrease in propensity to engage.

One of these drivers, in Great Britain, is the perception that reducing global poverty is a moral cause; as people’s perception that reducing poverty is a moral cause improves, their propensity to engage increases.

These drivers are each identified through a cluster of questions; in this case looking at different aspects of moral concern about global poverty. One of the questions which tests this driver asks whether respondents believe they have a duty to support a generous aid for poor countries which only 22% of respondents in Britain agree with. Another key question asks whether respondents feels that they “should” be giving money to reduce poverty; in Britain 19% agree while 47% disagree. So there is lots of room for improvement in terms of promoting this key driver of engagement!

Improving perceptions that reducing global poverty is a moral cause is most important for the least engaged audiences. Seeing the reduction of global poverty as a moral cause is a sort of ‘gateway’ for engagement; unless audiences believe that reducing global poverty is a moral cause they are unlikely to engage and if they do engage it is unlikely their engagement will be sustained.

So how do we improve perceptions that reducing global poverty is a moral cause?

We will be conducting further research on this so watch this space, however in the mean time here’s some ideas of what to do and not to do:

  • People strongly prefer to be consistent and so linking your message to a previously held moral position will strengthen the moral appeal of your cause
  • In testing we found that relatable examples of moral principles were important; tax dodging and gender based discrimination were relatable because they are domestic and international problems
  • Moralising towards audiences does not work; seeking to change people’s morals or to tell them how to think morally puts most people off engaging

Good examples:

We found in focus groups that this advert by Oxfam, emphasising inequality and the unfairness of tax dodging was popular with both engaged and disengaged audiences. Many focus group participants felt inequality in their own lives and were angry that fantastically rich people were causing poverty ‘at home and abroad’ by dodging their taxes.

Keep your eye on this blog for updates about which moral positions work best for which audiences.



About the author(s)

Will Tucker

Will is a communications and advocacy consultant. He leads partner and sector engagement with the Aid Attitudes Tracker in the UK and works on behaviour change, public attitudes and advocacy strategy and delivery with a range of charities and philanthropic clients.


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