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Transforming how global development works and whom it works for (2022)

Unlock Aid

unlock aid

Launched in 2022, Unlock Aid is a coalition of the world’s most innovative organizations on a mission to reimagine the future of global development. Soon after its creation, it brought on Spitfire to establish clear communications functions for the organization, and we worked closely with its leaders to develop a messaging platform, create social media and newsletter content, build strong partnerships with government agencies and community-based entrepreneurs through lobbying events and creative workshops, and tell the story of why the intent of foreign aid just be reimagined and its rules rewritten.

Unlock Aid was formed with the knowledge that the foreign assistance structures born out of the 1960s are ill-equipped to function in the 21st century. The status quo is no longer a viable option, entrenching outdated systems of privilege and power rather than dismantling and shifting them. By focusing on radical imagination and local wisdom, Unlock Aid works to reanimate the development sector to serve the public interest rather than legacy contractors; invest in new voices and ideas; and build a healthier, more resilient and more prosperous planet for all. To do that effectively, Unlock Aid sought a partner to help establish communication strategies that would expand and strengthen relationships within its coalition, raise the profile of its innovators and drive legislative change in foreign assistance.

Unlock Aid found that partner in Spitfire. With equity at the heart of everything we do and a leading priority for Unlock Aid, we developed a new narrative about international aid and fresh messaging that explained the urgent need for inclusivity to undo the global development sector’s previous harm, set new rules for appropriations that center on-the-ground experience, and highlighted Unlock Aid’s innovative approaches and exciting partnerships. Unlock Aid’s messages were shared through newsletters, a new “Who Are Unlock Aid” video and across social media channels, strengthening relationships with supporters and providing new guideposts for influential leadership at aid agencies and in Congress. Through social media content, media training and writing support that Spitfire provided, Unlock Aid further established its media presence and positioned itself as a serious contributor to the conversation on the future of foreign assistance.

With core messaging in place, Spitfire supported Unlock Aid in preparation for two in-person coalition gatherings. In April 2022, Unlock Aid network members from across the globe gathered in Washington, D.C., to meet with nearly 30 congressional offices about changing the way development investment operates and closing loopholes for legacy contractor wastefulness and inefficiency. Those initial meetings were complemented by more than a dozen additional meetings over the spring and summer. Spitfire crafted daily messaging for Unlock Aid members, developed talking points, and provided social media support and video production assistance. Unlock Aid’s messages landed. Congress members who met with Unlock Aid members took those members’ goals to heart and centered accountability, transparency and innovation in both their subsequent public statements and the 2023 Fiscal Year House of Representatives Appropriations bill.