From Intention To Donation: Why Is It So Difficult?
The pressure to turn stories into likes, to know which time of the day will fetch maximum page views raises one very important question- Do likes, comments and views even signify that people care about a story or issue? I believe in most cases the answer is No.
It was a self-analysed decision to work for a social cause and so motivated to make a difference I landed up with CRY (Child Rights and You). As a volunteer, I was assigned to work with the PAG (Public Action Group) and I was looking after East Delhi communities. It was during one of those weekly meetings when I got a chance to have a long conversation with a creative writing professional. I came to know the challenges people from the creative writing space face when they are dealing with such sensitive issues and what I am trying to do with this article is putting forth the kind of speculations they go through when they are promoting or giving their voice to causes that have been ignored, forgotten or marginalised.
Parallel Visions in the Organization: NGOs depend on other organisations like corporates to look for funding and partnerships and at times it becomes very difficult to align the funder’s vision with that of the NGO. As a result, in the long run, the creative writing team is forced to make adjustments in the mission and vision statements of the NGO or to give a different ending to the featured story
Self- conflicting views: When the creative person covers a sensitive issue, he/she wants the individuals in the story to be taken seriously and be respected for who they are rather than be viewed as helpless and weak. But readers in most cases don’t like stories that openly talk about flaws. “Readers like stories with smiling faces, children with clothes on, newly built schools and toilets and fields all green”-she said
“How can an underprivileged kid have that strength or dignity but yet needs help from me?” – This is what a viewer’s perspective is that makes the creative writing person question his/her own story.
From Attention to Engagement: The most challenging part is to move readers with your narrative and there is also a big risk of dilution so much that the story might become a ‘throw away’ story. Why does it happen that we recommend a certain book to a friend? Share a link? Force a friend to see that movie? The answer is because that book/link/film moved us emotionally but this becomes tougher with social issues because there are gazillion other social causes that are trying to nab a reader’s attention and the fact that with every passing day we are becoming unresponsive to these issues adds to the level of difficulty.
Multitasking: NGOs take up multiple projects and run various campaigns simultaneously to bag a bigger platform and to get all the recognition. Take for instance CRY, which is presently running more than 50 projects in 6 different cities and UNICEF, running more than 270 projects all over the world. In such cases certain outcomes that the creative writing person is expected to come up with like aid, getting the right connections, taxation get multiplied and the focus gets divided.
Varied preferences: Also in the midst of all the chaos, the creative writing person fights a losing battle to ensure everyone’s story has an equal chance to be heard. Somehow issues like Child Trafficking, Women Empowerment and Education get a better response than Healthcare and Hygiene. For eg. Stories of girls in school in Africa get a better response from the public than say, boys in asylum seeker playgroups in Australia. Is it because people simply care about girls in Africa more? Or, the government and media trying to push their own agendas make us believe in certain stories more than others? Well according to me some stories are not made to move the readers emotionally but are designed to promote the campaigns and keep the funds flowing in.
To emote and express on behalf of millions of those who are waiting for that one helping hand, to make people cringe and cry through your narrative is what a creative writing professional does everyday. There is nothing wrong in listing out faults and loopholes in your story but to portray the individuals in a holistic way that is educational and inspiring, is the key important thing. While I understand the significance of donation for aid programs, I don’t believe the sole purpose of telling stories should be to receive funds. So I owe this article to all those people who are striving hard everyday to write stories that reach people beyond social and economic barriers and are contributing in their own small way to enlighten readers with an honest approach.
Keep up the good work!