Charity Representations of Distant Others – An analysis of charity advertising in UK national newspapers


Project status: Complete

Funded by: University of East Anglia Research Impact Fund

There is a continued predominance of images with African characters in charity adverts supporting international causes, but on the whole the images used in charity fundraising appeals are improving.

This study conducted over a six month period in 2021 examines 541 images found in 17 national weekend newspapers in the UK. All of the adverts were characterised as supporting issues in countries overseas.

In the past charities have been criticised for their shock tactics and using images of suffering to generate emotions of compassion and pity. They have also been accused of dehumanising those depicted in the photographs and unnecessary use of stereotypes driven by unequal power dynamics. This criticism often warrants questions such as: how should charities portray the people they are trying to support and what is the damage of these representations? The research explores whether charity adverts have changed in recent years and what kinds of characters are represented in their fundraising campaigns.

This research was conducted by David Girling, Associate Professor in DEV and Deborah Adesina, who graduated from the MA Media and Global Development in 2022. It was supported by funding from the UEA Research Impact Fund.

Download the Charity Representations of Distant Others Report here

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