In Partnership with
Bill & Melinda Gates foundation

2012 Challenge: Brief

Aid is Working: Tell the World (Part 2)

Please note that entries for this challenge are now closed.

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


In February 2012, we issued a call for proposals to help us find revolutionary approaches to communications that could motivate the public in wealthy countries of the world to support foreign aid investments and take action to demonstrate that support.  

The world responded, and we’re deeply inspired by the proposals we received. We will announce the winners in November 2012.  

Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 builds on the results of our Round 9 challenge. It focuses again on communicating the importance of investments to support global development, but presents four specific submission categories for grant seekers. We hope these will ignite new ideas and unique responses from the global community that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can support as part of its overall mission to alleviate global poverty. 

We are focused on identifying and supporting new ways to communicate the impact of investments provided by a range of resources including: world governments, the private sector, developing country resources, direct investments, private donors, official development assistance (ODA), and large-scale development programmes.  


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 if we make the choice to continue investing in innovation… we are convinced that when people hear stories of the lives they’ve helped to improve, they want to do more, not less.
– Bill Gates, 2012 Annual Letter 


Ending extreme hunger and poverty and improving the health of the poorest people around the world will require massive public support of programs and initiatives aimed at solving these problems, which have successfully demonstrated their effectiveness on the ground.

Most people already believe that helping others throughout the world have the opportunity to live a healthy and productive life is the right thing to do. But many also believe that most of the support currently provided, especially foreign aid from rich governments, is not well-spent or is not having a positive impact. Therefore, we need to do a better job of explaining what investments in global development are, how they work, and the real changes they can lead to when delivered effectively. Communicating this to the world will help build greater international support for ongoing investment that can improve the lives of poor people.

What We are Looking For

The goal of this challenge is to identify new ways to motivate the world’s citizens to show their ongoing support for investment in the developing world, by highlighting the extraordinary progress already being made to meet international development goals, such as: ending extreme poverty and hunger, reducing childhood mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

Evidence demonstrates that aid has a greater impact when it is used in combination with, or to catalyse, engagement from others, including developing country governments, the private sector, social entrepreneurs, and other forms of investment. Therefore, we welcome and encourage ideas that demonstrate both the progress and potential of these partnerships, and debunk cynical views about the effectiveness of aid and other investments in global development.

We invite proposals that deliver innovative ideas, and will give preference to those that show a compelling plan for how to distribute and scale the ideas and sustain public engagement around investments in global development.

We Are Accepting Proposals With An Emphasis in Four Areas

Mobile: We seek proposals for projects that will activate these emerging mobile networks and engage users, through basic and smart phone technologies, in ways that build support in wealthy economies for development efforts in places they are needed most. We seek proposals for projects that not only use mobile technology to gather and tell stories, but also compel people to collaborate and take action.

Data: The emergence of Big Data and web services provide new opportunities to understand and talk about development. We seek proposals for projects that produce new analysis of and insights into existing data about the impact of development efforts, and that use it to tell compelling, new stories about how those investments enable progress in the developing world. We seek proposals that include strategies for how to interpret, visualise, organise and communicate data to audiences.

Young audiences: We believe it is critical to engage the next generation of global citizens in strategies to address development challenges. We seek proposals for projects that will increase youth awareness of global development challenges and that can prepare young people in the north and global south to be informed advocates and leaders in creating solutions for these problems. Proposals must include specific information about how the program will address specific global development issues, which youth audiences the project will reach, how it will activate those audiences, and why.

The Progress of Development: When spent wisely, aid and other investments have helped countries lift themselves out of poverty and end their reliance on assistance from donor nations. We seek proposals for projects that show the virtuous cycle of development efforts, at both micro- and macro-levels: how the beneficiaries of aid are using it to become self-sufficient (for example: small farmers who, by increasing their productivity, are able to send their children to school), and how countries that were previously supported through aid investments, are now providers of aid and other kinds of support for other nations (foreign aid graduates).

We will not consider funding for:

How We'll Evaluate Proposals

Proposals will be reviewed against the following criteria:

How The Chimera Works