White saviourism is still prevalent in fundraising practices. Here are four simple ways to avoid it.

Using white pity to frame fundraising appeals for humanitarian causes is still common in the INGO world — and critics say it’s dehumanizing.

Why It Matters

White saviour fundraising isn’t just paternalistic and racist. It can condition donors to believe that humanitarian issues in the Global South are unsolvable. Fundraising campaigns that promote solidarity can be just as effective as traditional ads, if not more so.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of racist fundraising advertisements. 

A Black child stares dully into the camera. Perhaps they’re picking through a mountain of garbage, carrying jugs of water on their heads, or sitting in a dirt-floored hut. There is often sad music, reminiscent of an animal adoption campaign. Sometimes, they cry. 

Amid these heart wrenching scenes, a narrator urges donors to give something — anything — to spare these poor children from their hardships. Cue a 1-800 number, a charitable organization’s logo, and a fade to the next commercial. 

This narrative template is known as the ‘starving baby appeal’: a reliance on white pity to draw donations from benefactors in the Global North. These appeals can take many forms, but tend to rely on colonial stereotypes about local communities as helpless, one-dimensio

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