Ethical images and storytelling amidst differing expectations
Keywords:Fundraising, authentic participation, decolonization, human rights, consent, dignified storytelling, international development
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations (NPOs) seek creative ways to raise awareness about issues and connect with donors to raise the resources required to address the needs of the communities they work with. This paper highlights ethical challenges and lessons learned in using images and storytelling in the development sector. This article resulted from a capacity-building event on the ethical use of images from development projects. It draws from the event itself, which was organized by the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC) in 2022, and from conversations leading up to and following the event between the author, guest speakers, and additional stakeholders.
The workshop was led by two representatives from MCIC member organizations. These two guest speakers shared experiences of using images and storytelling in their work in the Global South. Based on these conversations, this article highlights unequal power relations around the use of images from development projects, emphasizing organizations’ ethical challenges and how storytelling is (re)constructed amidst competing needs and expectations. The paper contributes to the ongoing discourse on ethical storytelling in fundraising and the need for decolonial storytelling.
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