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Photo: ©Tristan Clements/Stacking

Adapting donor branding to local sensitivities


Deep yet rapid context analysis and review of live negotiations led to a fresh approach from NGOs to the director of the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) regarding a branding waiver for US donations in a major humanitarian response.


On behalf of the group of OFDA partners in one major humanitarian emergency, we were asked to test the reasoning behind the waiver request for branding on USAID donations, which had just been rejected. A more nuanced response was required; therefore, we worked with aid agencies and country experts to review the specific threats across the different geographic areas, identified the variation in the country, and built a new case for the US Government to consider in relation to several specific target sites.


Through various workshops, we collaborated with leading local academics on the historical, current and potential ongoing threat of extremist militant and criminal groups in those areas, and concluded that US branding would put the aid staff and beneficiaries at an unacceptable level of risk of targeted attacks.


A separate interagency strategy was proposed as an alternative to branding in those areas, which included activities aimed at raising awareness about the positive impact that the work of humanitarian agencies, supported by multiple donors including the US, were having in the country. This was a more productive approach than the initial request for a blanket waiver.



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