People in Need launch new campaign to raise funds for overseas development work

One of the wells constructed by People in Need, photo: Iva Zímová,

Prague-based Czech NGO People in Need this week announced the start of a new charity campaign aimed at raising funds for development assistance overseas. The fund will be used to help development in some of the world's poorest countries and the scheme aims to get Czechs to donate on a regular basis, not just when a head-line making crisis strikes.

Television adverts this week appeared on screens urging Czechs to subscribe to donate a certain amount of money each month to charity. People in Need want to provide a new fund for development in the world's least developed countries, as defined by the United Nations. The organisation's head, Šimon Pánek explained some of the project’s goals:

"The new campaign is focussed on development assistance and development cooperation. This fund will support and aid the solution of long term development problems, such as lack of primary education, lack of access to primary healthcare and water supplies, and income generation problems. It's a lon- term project which will be seen in the media for the next few years."

He also went on to reveal some interesting aspects of charity-giving in the Czech Republic, comparing donation habits here with those elsewhere in the EU:

"Czechs are quite able to contribute; fundraising in the CR is much higher than in all other new EU member states. So the Czechs are ready to contribute - but only in times of crises. They probably don't realise or they are unaware of people's needs when they don't make the front page. This is despite the fact that some of the people live their whole lives in worse circumstances than those caught up in an immediate crisis."

Providing information as to where the money goes and what it can achieve is important in getting people to donate, and Panek obviously feels the need to emphasis the value of the donations in the advertising surrounding the campaign's launch:

"We think that it's quite important to explain to people that their 200-300 Czech crowns per month could be enough to pay for all school materials and books for one child in Africa for one year. 1000 crowns per month could provide for one place at a school for a year, through constructing new schools. A few hundred Czech crowns can bring in enough medicine to save a child's life in Africa."

The head of People in Need feels that the response to the campaign will be slow and steady, unlike the responses seen following, say, natural disasters appeals. However, this will, he says, be in keeping with the projects aims, which are to create lasting sustainability and development in poverty-stricken countries across the world.

"Again I would like to underline the fact that the project is a long-term project, so we don't expect a rush of people to contribute now. It is also to increase awareness amongst Czechs of development needs and the development agenda, which will, I hope, bring the result that more people will contribute and subscribe to contribute monthly or annually to this fund."