The Love You Give campaign has been developed by the Better Care Network, with support from its partner organisations working through a coalition called ReThink Orphanages. The cross-sectoral coalition is working to end the popular practice of orphanage volunteering and channel efforts towards programmes designed to prevent family separation.
This insight-driven behaviour change campaign called 'The Love You Give' is targeted at young (18-22-year old) gap year travelers and short-term missionaries. The campaign’s development has been informed by research carried out among gap year travelers and short-term missionaries in the UK and US. Behaviour change theory will be applied to evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign.
The National Social Marketing Centre (NSMC) (thensmc.com) was appointed as a research partner to gain a better understanding of the motivations, drivers and decision-making process of orphanage volunteers in the USA and the UK.
What problem is the campaign seeking to address?
Volunteering in orphanages is a popular means of ‘giving back’ among gap year travelers and short-term mission teams. However, this well-meaning support is weakening global care reform efforts to move away from institutional care for children.
Around 80% of children who live in orphanages are not ‘orphans’ – they have at least one living parent as well as other family members who could care for them. One of the main drivers for a child to be placed in an orphanage is poverty. Parents and families are faced with making impossible choices to send their children to live in an orphanage as the only way to access basic services including education and health care.
Decades of research have found that growing up in institutional care is harmful to a child’s development, which is why there is a global effort to help keep families together and prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of children. Despite their best intentions, volunteers do more harm than good for the children they want to help. Without a family to make them feel secure, children are quick to form relationships with volunteers as they arrive, only to feel abandoned once again when they leave.
The volunteer tourism industry is valued at $173 billion annually. Orphanage voluntourism and foreign funding create a demand for children to be in orphanages. The solution is to focus on strengthening families and communities to prevent this from happening.
What does the campaign aim to do?
The goal of the campaign is to ignite a youth-led social movement to make orphanage volunteering a thing of the past. It seeks to re-wire the emotion that is connected to orphanage volunteering and channel this towards more positive solutions.
What format will the campaign take?
The core component of the campaign is a short, powerful docu-film with stories told from the perspective of care leavers; with supporting stories from families who have had to make difficult choices about their children, and individuals working in care reform. The film is being distributed through, and underpinned by, a PR and social media campaign, and supported by a broad coalition of child protection, education, travel and tourism and faith actors mobilized under ReThink Orphanages. ReThink Orphanages partner organisations are helping to amplify The Love You Give campaign by distributing it through their social media channels.
The campaign has its own dedicated website presence where visitors can engage with the film, become part of the social movement, and access advice about how to ensure that their time volunteering overseas is genuinely spent making a difference.