By Vikki Walshe, Worldview Project Manager
The Worldview Steering Group met on 17 February to unpack the preliminary results from the public engagement research project’s first annual tracker. The project’s research partner, Behaviour & Attitudes, presented an overview of the top line findings with some very encouraging initial insights.
The quantitative survey ran from 6 January – 5 February 2021 and a representative sample of 3,008 Irish adults were interviewed to gauge their awareness and attitudes towards overseas development aid.
75% of respondents to the survey are concerned about levels of poverty in developing countries and 79% believe overseas development aid can help bring about positive change for those living in developing countries. 80% agree overseas aid improves people's lives by providing access to education, healthcare, clean water and sanitation, ranking these three issues as the most important priorities for Irish Government support on overseas aid to developing countries, respectively.
The Worldview project’s strategic consultants, David and Jennifer Hudson, Co-Directors of the Development Engagement Lab, also attended the presentation and gave their initial insights into the data. “This topline data spells good news for the Irish market, particularly in comparison to similar research carried out in the UK,” according to David, referring to the Aid Attitude Tracker project. “Concern about global poverty is only at 50% in the UK compared to 75% in Ireland and your levels of support for overseas development aid are very encouraging.”
It isn’t all good news, however. Although 77% of respondents felt it was important that the Irish Government’s provides overseas development assistance (ODA), only 31% advocated for an increase in ODA spending; 21% proposed a decrease while 43% felt the ODA budget should remain the same. Public trust remains an issue with only 27% of respondents trusting Overseas Development NGOs and 36% trusting the Irish Government while almost half (48%) of respondents felt the private sector is generally more efficient and competent than the public sector in getting things done. The data also points toward work to be done on improving public understanding and perceptions of global inequality; when asked about the main drivers of poverty in developing countries, corruption (45%) and war and conflict (39%) ranked highest.
The primary aim of the Worldview project is to improve our public engagement as a sector by understanding what messages resonate with the Irish public and where to reach them. The preliminary results show that TV news is ranked as the top source of public information followed by newspapers/press, radio and social media. TV news was also cited as having the greatest influence on people’s opinions, followed by family and social media.
Human rights, shared humanity and humanitarianism were listed as the top drivers of individual support for overseas development aid while sympathy, religion and pity ranked lowest suggesting that humanist messages of universality resonate more deeply with the Irish public than the traditional messages of charity. “The human element is a really interesting coalescing of attitudes in the Irish context that signal where you can start to unpick messaging and how you talk about aid with the Irish public,” said Jennifer. “This commonality and sense of shared human experience is a really healthy place to start messaging.”
This initial data will undergo focus group testing later this month, after which a full analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data will be presented to the Worldview Steering Group. We are excited to share these results with the wider Dóchas network through a series of dissemination events in March/April as well as through our innovative online public engagement toolkit which will be developed in the coming months – watch this space!
The Worldview: Exploring Irish attitudes to overseas development aid is a public engagement research project developed by Dóchas members, with support from Irish Aid. Launched in 2020, the project will undertake longitudinal tracked research on the Irish public’s attitude towards overseas development aid; not just what we believe, but why we believe it. The quantitative and qualitative research data will inform a series of targeted experimental campaigns that aim to test whether and how attitudes can shift overtime. All of this is with a view of developing a collective sector narrative that resonates and engages with the Irish public about the relevance and importance of international development cooperation and cultivates an enhanced sense of Irish Global Citizenship.
For more information on the Worldview Project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org