Telling your Story & Poverty Porn

 

If you work in the non-profit environment you are always looking for relevance.  Whether is by crunching numbers to come up with those digits and percentages that show the “impact” you have in the community you serve and / or by learning about the stories and people using your services.

Inevitably, you come up with a story to explain what that number or situation means and why is important that YOU as a potential donor, invest money / time /skills to support it.

As someone working to develop platforms to share information, programs and to drive fundraising opportunities; every day I am faced with the decision of HOW to tell my stories in a respectful, fair and inspiring way.

Non-Profit Quarterly shared an article a few weeks ago about Ethical Ways To Tell a Story that hit many nails on the head especially when noting that in an effort to convey a desperate situation, non-profits often times tell desperate stories portraying themselves as the “heroes”.

While I am not negating that many of the individuals we serve may have terrible situations, we make the decision of reducing them to their problems and often times we perpetuate stereotypes and cultural biases (Blacks are poor, Latinos are undocumented, homeless people are drug addicts, etc).

When we reduce individuals to a desperate case, we take away everything that is special about that person, his/her inspiration, successes and a more comprehensive view of reality that is relatable.

“POVERTY PORN” is what One.org calls it.

We all know what it means because we have seen it.  The larger problem with it is that it empowers the wrong person and it misrepresents the problems.  Disparities, Poverty, are all consequences of a system and they can not be solved by donations but by social movements.

When we represent ourselves as the “saviors” instead of the “partners” in a success story we are limiting donors in their capabilities as activists and agents of change.

Unfortunately, it is proven that POVERTY PORN works, so is up to us, non-profit voices to decide what is the ethical thing to do.  I am personally trying to stay away from this narrative and work on reflecting the voices of the people we serve, not impose our voices on their faces.

Today, I join the #STOPTHEPITY movement and I challenge you to do the same.

MAMA HOPE does a great job of helping us see the world through connections & hope

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2 Comments on “Telling your Story & Poverty Porn

  1. Pingback: License To Be Your Best Self: If you can afford it, read the right book, attend the key event, etc. – Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza

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