By ABONG, member of Forus in Brazil.
Since the current government has reached power, civil society organizations (CSOs) have been systematically attacked in a clear process of criminalizing their actions.
In this scenario, Cardume (a network of communicators from progressive organizations and media outlets) felt that it would be necessary to create a campaign advocating for the organizations' right to act in Brazil.
This action had as its focus resuming the dialogue with those segments of society that we were no longer able to reach, providing us with information on the organized civil society's importance in the construction of society, and thus strengthening CSOs' action.
In an attempt to create this dialogue with those who were not aware of the organizations' action, we developed a research process called 'focus group', to learn how to raise awareness among our target audience.
The goal was to learn how our action is seen by people, so that we could then create a language that would make sense to our audience, and also bring it closer to us.
This process has brought about many lessons that enabled us to speak beyond our political and ideological spectrum. In order to create this bridge, a great deal of reflection and language adaption were necessary.
In this process, strategic decisions such as starting to use the term 'NGO' again were necessary. This has been identified as the one nomenclature that is most recognizable to people, even though this is not the term that makes most sense to us (we were using 'CSO' in our communications, as it better represents us).
We also believe that language should move away from political polarization, propose a union between people, and build engagement through collective accountability for the problems faced by the population. It should set the people as the agent of this necessary change in society.
Another very important finding was understanding that what most raises people's awareness in a widespread way are the welfare causes, which bring immediate benefits. Pragmatism and a need for immediate results further mobilize people.
All of this has shown us that, for us to truly create dialogue, a great deal of reflection about language is necessary. We tend to politicize communication at all times, and we recognise the importance of evaluating when is the right moment to advocate for the use of terms that have been regarded as correct, and when is the right moment to create dialogue through a simpler and more democratic language.
Our project of society necessarily entails raising the awareness of a society that is not engaged in our causes, so listening to it and adapting ourselves to its demands is critical to achieving our goal.
Learn about the campaign that has been developed from these reflections:
Please access also the full report with all the findings: