Breakout Session 1: Using Innovation to Reach New Audiences

Delegates at Breakout Session 1

This session featured Tjipke Bergsma (CEO, War Child Holland), Jen Murphy (Development Education Manager, Trócaire) and Paul Keating (lecturer and researcher, Limerick Institute of Technology). John Smith (Director of Public Engagement, Trócaire) chaired.

The purpose of this session was to explore the impact and effectiveness of communicating with new audiences in an innovative way. Tjipke Bergsma showcased War Child's Batman video. Paul Keating and Jen Murphy focused on the need to engage with young people much more effectively than we’ve been doing. Play them at their own game - Gaming!

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Focus on creativity in Development Education work - Drama, visual arts, music, dance, sports and games, social media and ICT stimulate children’s creative skills.

  • Creative activities connect to the world of children. They provide instant fun, generate positive energy, and give children and young people new skills that they can be proud of.

  • Creative activities are an ideal outlet for emotions. Children and young people learn to overcome their fears, develop confidence and find a way to express themselves freely. Creativity can break down ethnic, religious and gender barriers.

  • The Batman video builds on the universal bond of parents and children.

  • While the Batman video was not intended as a fundraiser, it could have been tweaked slightly to incorporate an ‘ask’ - either donation or a campaign ask. This was perhaps a missed opportunity, but there were other unintended positive outcomes.

  • While the video did not directly raise any significant funds, it has attracted a lot of international attention. The video went viral - 2.8 million views - and has won several major awards. As a result of this increased profile in creative/innovation circles, many corporate foundations have approached War Child for proposals for funding. Minimal short-term financial gains but high reputational and visibility gains which have led to at least two long-term partnerships.

Considerations when introducing an innovation in your organisation:

  • People do not like change.

  • There was initial internal resistance to the video - this highlights the importance of taking time to listen to and address staff concerns about new innovations.

  • Innovation does not need to be expensive. This video was low-cost, high-impact - all the actors were part of the local community of displaced people in Lebanon, no paid actors. The only cost were flights and some logistics.

  • Using local community as actors was financially positive but also more rewarding for the community themselves to be part of it.

  • Music rights were an issue - need to consider this when using music in background to film/innovation.

Discussion takeaways:

  • For some, the purpose of the video wasn’t immediately clear - it needed an ‘ask’ or a donate prompt

  • Innovation needs multiple platforms - the world is not communicating the way it used to. The number of people who engage with traditional media has decreased. We need to move with the times and find new innovative ways of communicating our message.

  • Batman video did not make you feel guilty or coerced. It was empowering and breaks down boundaries.

  • It is a relatable story for everyone - a child playing with his father. It can be easily tweaked for multiple audiences. It could open discussions for any age group - children, parents, youth, etc.

  • Risk taking - difficult to attract funding for innovation through traditional funders. There is an element of risk with innovation, and donors are not always willing to take risks.

Follow up on the Batman project for War Child:

  • Need to analyse who engaged with the video - build profiles and follow-up with them. Highlights the need for a robust CRM system to track these engagements - how to turn the 2.8 million views into funding/campaigners.

  • When exploring innovative ideas, engage children and youth in the process, test ideas on them.

Gaming discussion:

  • Need to understand the gaming phenomenon. 76% of children aged 12-15, and 62% of children aged 8-11, play games online.

  • “World of Warcraft a MMORPG… hosts 7.2 million player/members players globally.” Subculture to Society (2012).

  • “Every single day, gamers worldwide spend a collective 30 million hours working, (and interacting) on World of Warcraft.” McGonigal (2011).

  • Our sector needs to explore game-based Development Education. We need to be part of the youth world.

  • Gaming is augmented reality - online real-world environments - interactive games based on virtual real life scenarios. For now the majority of games are action/adventure/war, but this presents a massive opportunity for Development Education to engage in this platform by developing games focused on social change and issues of justice, equality, climate, etc.

  • Bring the message to children where they are engaging - gaming.

  • Education through games offers different learning experiences for students, which is important as every student learns differently.

  • This should be based on research - such as the joint project between Trócaire and Limerick IT (LIT). Trocaire is working with LIT and developing a game for their Development Education tools. It will be piloted later this year.

  • Some EU countries and the US have already started working on using gaming for Development Education. There is a gap in Ireland, with nobody really working on it. We need to find game developers who are interested/aware of global issues and willing to engage.

  • There will be further follow up with the Dóchas Development Education Working Group, looking at possibilities of taking this type of innovation forward.