New animation launched for Centre For Development Results

Development involves many kinds of organisations

When people think of development, they often think of charities and NGOs. But vital support is also delivered by companies, universities, banks, and think tanks.

The Centre for Development Results is a growing London-based association of companies that deliver aid worldwide with the UK government. For a full list of members, check the CDR site.

The CDR showcases its members’ projects, organises events to share lessons, and stimulates debate of development sector issues. Each quarter, for instance, it launches publications covering topics such as women working in international development, and aid delivery in conflict states.

Its goal is to improve impact, value for money and accountability in its members’ work.

London riverfront: A scene from our animation that tells the CDR story.

London riverfront: A scene from our animation that tells the CDR story.

The Centre for Development Results (CDR) is an organisation that supports companies that deliver UK aid funded programmes and have a shared aspiration to improve impact, value for money and accountability in their work. We work to build partnerships with DfID, cross-government funds and other UK aid and development sector stakeholders to raise awareness of the role and impact companies have and to help shape UK development policy.

How we animated the CDR story

Warm, upbeat, energetic, and invitational. That’s the the tone of the story, narration, music, and visuals.

The animation features people from many professional backgrounds each supporting international development in unique ways. Their support encompasses agriculture and industry, health, infrastructure, and aid in emergencies and conflict. That diversity features strongly in the script and visuals.

The CDR also brings organisations together to share knowledge and experiences within London. It regularly hosts events and releases publication to create awareness of development sector issues, so we created a connection between audiences and the city, too.

And as the film is an invitation for companies join the CDR, it finishes with a clear call to action. It was important that we leave audiences with concepts such as debate, discussion, and online search.

Watch the animation, check out the CDR website, read its publications, and join the debate.

Find the CDR online

The CDR network is now expanding to include more members. Visit the CDR website at, or on Twitter @CDR_dev

Animation script

What do you think of when you think of international development? Many people think of NGOs and charities. But it also includes organisations like universities, companies, think tanks and banks. And it includes people like researchers, engineers, and health and education specialists.

Based in London, the Centre for Development Results is a growing association of private sector organisations that support the UK’s international development efforts. They respond to crises and conflicts, and they deliver food, water, shelter and healthcare in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

They build vital infrastructure such as schools and sanitation systems, and they support countries and communities to grow and stand on their own two feet. And they are CDR members because they share a desire to improve the impact of that work.

Here at the CDR, we explore our members’ contributions to international development, and we showcase their life-changing work. We create spaces to exchange lessons. We stimulate debate on how to improve standards in the sector. And overall, our goal is to help the UK government and our members change lives.

And now, we are expanding the CDR network to bring more passionate voices to the discussion. So, what do you think of when you think of international development? We want to know. Find us online, read our publications, and join the discussion. And together, let’s achieve better development results.

The Big Blue Communications writing style guide

Content is important. It influences thoughts, emotions, and actions. Good content makes the world better, and bad content makes it worse.

At Big Blue, we use an internal writing style guide to help our teammates create clear and compelling content. This guide governs our writing for reports, human interest stories, website and social content, speeches, scripts and even emails.

We are sharing it here for other teams as a foundation for their own communication. Feel free to share and adapt.

10 steps to clear, compelling content

Fact-check. Reputations depend on it.

Write to create human connections. Stories are about people. Write with emotion. No robot language.

Short words, sentences, and paragraphs. To create connections, stories must first be understood. Many audiences do not use English as a first language. Less than 25 words per sentence as per UK government practice. Comprehension drops as sentences become longer.

Get to the point fast. Drop adverbs and adjectives unless necessary. No throw-away statements. Reduce noise in your writing. Every idea and word matters. One minute = 150 spoken English words or 250 read words. Plan accordingly.

Modern UK English. No archaic language.

Proofread. Proofreading is conscientious, caring, and professional. You are in charge of your own proofreading.

Use jargon and acronyms with care. They save time for some audiences, but alienate others. Aim for acronym-free writing.

Helpful, memorable titles and headings. These give structure. They also attract attention. Up to 80% of readers may never see more than a title, so make it count, and write several versions of it before choosing the best.

Active voice where possible.

Words + images = power. Images often communicate faster than words. Use often.

How to write as part of a team

Write in real-time collaboration tools like Google Docs.

Use ‘style headings’. These save time, money, and mental health. This is not optional.

Use agreed filenaming conventions. Do not use your own filenaming conventions.

Put files on the shared drive. This is safer and more helpful than storing on your own device. Store in logical locations for easy searching.

Proofread. See above.

‘Track’ changes when reviewing others’ work. Be a kind, critical editor.

Our team seeks a Digital Communications Specialist with incredibly strong writing skills to join our Dhaka team.
Read the job description

Murky and soulless vs clear and compelling writing

Example: Murky and soulless

On Thursday, 30th March 2018, project stakeholders were assembled at the Inclusive Business Conference held at Amari Hotel in Dhaka to discuss financial inclusion for all and Bangladesh’s progress towards achieving the SDGs.

At the event, our team was responsible for leading a presentation on access to finance for the nation’s underprivileged people. The presentation was attended by the Chief Guest, Special Guest and Honourable Guest, as well as ministers and business executives.

The presentation was opened by the Master of Ceremonies, who introduced the need for MFS to be incorporated into the vision for Digital Bangladesh. Our team then gave a presentation that highlighted the main points of our research. Consumers are using MFS, but small business owners are not doing so to a large extent. Government must take steps to ensure that MFS are taken up by small business owners in order to promote innovation across the country.

Why this does not work: Long-winded and not direct. Robot language. No emotion. Focuses on the wrong details. Mis-prioritisation of information slows reading. Does not get to the point fast enough. Throw-away phrases include ‘financial inclusion for all’. Passive voice throughout. Includes alienating acronyms.

Example: Clear and compelling

Last Thursday at the first-ever Inclusive Business Conference in Bangladesh, we presented our research into small business owners’ use of mobile financial services.

Overall, the outlook is poor. Citizens are indeed picking up services like bKash and Rocket to transfer small amounts of cash, but small business owners do not see a strong case for incorporating digital services into their operations. In fact, less than 20% of small business owners use digital services for deposits or loan applications. More than 60% of surveyed business owners feel that mobile financial services are less secure than more traditional financial services.

This perception of mobile financial services is bad for business and for the country’s development. The government must create a better environment that encourages small business owners to move to digital services if the country wants to compete with others in the region. This is urgent, particularly as Bangladesh is now, according to a recent Global Innovation Index Report, the least innovative country in Asia.

Why this works: Short sentences, simple words. Gets to the point. Avoids pomp. Includes hard facts. Offers context. Gives readers a lot to think about. Creates a sense of urgency. Sentences start with helpful ‘linking’ words such as ‘Overall’, and ‘In fact’. Includes helpful hyperlink to report where readers can do more in-depth research.