In Partnership with
Bill & Melinda Gates foundation

2011 Challenge: Brief

Aid is Working: Tell the World

Please note that entries for this challenge are now closed

This challenge was run in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative. Further information on this challenge can be found on their site here.

The Challenge

Many people in the developed world are aid weary. They know billions of dollars go into aid, and yet the problems never seem to go away. This leads them to question if the money ever gets to where it is needed, and even then, if it is used wisely. The media seems full of stories of corruption, waste and broken systems.

But that’s not the whole story. Effective aid programs help developing countries become self-sufficient. They do not replace those countries’ efforts, but rather support the important work that’s already under way.

While not all aid projects deliver the kind of returns we hope for, very many do – and it’s critical to keep the support for those projects flowing.


 “Aid, which is less than 1 per cent of the budget in most countries, has a significant impact on people’s lives… Whether it’s fighting plant disease, treating people with AIDS, or getting a measles vaccine to a child in a remote area—modest investments in the poorest make a huge difference…

The relatively small amount of money invested in development has changed the future prospects of billions of people—and it can do the same for billions more.” -- Bill Gates, 2012 Annual Letter

What We are Looking For

If we, as a global community, are to succeed in ending extreme hunger and poverty and improving the health of the poorest, we must find ground-breaking ways to gather and share stories of aid working well. We must bring the data behind those stories to life. And we must do it on a global scale, making it relevant to audiences who are wrestling with tough economic decisions at home. 

The goal of this challenge is to solicit new approaches to communications that motivate the public in the wealthy countries of the world to change their minds about aid, and take actions to demonstrate their support.

We and others in the development community have traditionally focused on the “why” of aid. But most people already believe it is the right thing to do.  We must do a better job of explaining the “how” and the “what” (How exactly does aid work? Where does the money go? How is it used? What impact does it have on communities?).

We want to find revolutionary ways to make these issues matter deeply to the global community. We’re inspired by projects that allow anyone-- no matter where they live or what their background-- to take part. We encourage projects that embrace the complexity of these issues. We admire work that surprises us with its emotional power, and that comes at the problem from entirely new angles.

Most importantly, we’re looking for game-changing ideas we might never imagine on our own, and that could revolutionize the field. A few of the many specific examples to be considered include (but are by no means limited to…)

We will not consider funding for:

  • Projects not aligned with the foundation’s goals in health and development
  • Single pieces of content that are not supported by a robust engagement strategy
  • Projects focused on crisis response, individual donations,  or emergency relief, which are not as impacted by the current aid narrative
  • Basic research without a clear objective to solve a communications problem
  • Solely behavioral change/educational initiatives (e.g. training programmes, scholarships, education programmes)
  • Solely infrastructure or capacity-building initiatives
  • Projects earmarking foundation funds for lobbying activity (e.g. attempts to influence legislation or legislative action) or efforts to influence political campaigns for public office

How We'll Evaluate Proposals

Proposals will be reviewed against the following criteria:

How The Chimera Works