Here we answer frequently asked questions (FAQ) about visibility for development and other aid partnerships.

What is visibility?

In an aid context, 'visibility' refers to attracting attention to development, humanitarian and/or peacebuilding efforts, and the organisations, people and issues involved. In general, pursuing visibility is about getting such efforts noticed and recognised. However, visibility can be positive or negative.

Increasingly, the focus is on highlighting the impact of partnerships and engendering goodwill and support for collective efforts, rather than promoting individual partners. See also Aid partnership visibility basics.

What are examples of visibility?

Differing levels of visibility are appropriate for different contexts and partnerships. Examples cover many forms of mass communication, interpersonal communication and diplomacy.

Media coverage of a partnership and displaying partners’ logos on a web page are simple examples. So too are regular meetings between project staff and community members, social media campaigns and speeches by heads of agencies at major international events. A visit by a special rapporteur to a refugee camp and the presence of peacekeepers wearing United Nations jackets during demonstrations are further examples.

Our funding is under threat as we haven't met the formal visibility requirements in our partnership agreement. What can we do?

This situation arises when there is limited evidence of visibility efforts or when visibility requirements have been overlooked altogether. The good news is that immediate steps can address concerns about poor visibility.

Alert your organisation’s communications team and seek their assistance. Check the precise requirements set out in your partnership agreement and in visibility guidelines issued by your partner/s. What are the gaps? Have you in fact met formal requirements but failed to let your partners know? Where possible, consult your partners to understand their needs and priorities, and set up a direct line of communication between the right people.

Depending on the specific context of your partnership, quick fixes can include:

  • Working with your partners to agree upon a joint visibility plan, providing reassurance that a roadmap is in place to rectify concerns;
  • Issuing a web story or media release highlighting recent joint achievements under the partnership; and
  • Adding clear acknowledgement of your partners to your website.

For more, see our Resources section.

When is visibility harmful?

In some situations, increased visibility could be counterproductive or have serious unintended consequences.

For example, in a conflict zone or other fragile setting, publishing the names and photographs of citizens could put them at risk. Carefully assess risk before promoting the time and place of events, in particular where controversial figures are involved.

Field missions must pay special attention to the risk of retaliation against people associated with high-level or sensitive visits and be prepared to take additional measures to protect them. See also OHCHR Manual on Human Rights Monitoring: Using presence and visibility.

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