A utilização de narrativas fotográficas para comunicar o impacto social de intervenções das ONGDs portuguesas

Translated title of the contribution: The use of photographic narratives to communicate the social impact of interventions by Portuguese NGDOs

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The proposed object of study arises at the intersection of a relevant economic area, the Social Economy, where Non-Governmental Organizations for Development (NGDO) operate, a subgroup of the category of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), and dimensions of Communication such as Strategic Communication and Communication for Development/Social Change. This research aims to study the communication of NGDOs, more specifically their use of visual narratives. This is because communication is an important area for these organizations, as for all organizations, but in their specific case there is a set of functions that play a fundamental role. First of all, as its mission, by definition and legal configuration, is associated with the “common good”, there is a dimension of “accountability” to financiers and communities, which involves communicating in a clear and intelligible way the social changes that produce in social problems/needs and groups in which they act. On the other hand, there is also a clear connection to sustainability issues, not only because this type of organizations only has a reason to exist if they fulfill their service mission, but also because many, if not all, depend on the “proof” of this social utility. , the resources they need to continue intervening in the territories and audiences with whom they choose to work. In this investigation we will focus on analyzing the role of communication in Portuguese NGDOs, more specifically on the use of visual narratives, supported by photography, in their operational communication strategies and practices. The objective is therefore multidimensional, on the one hand we will seek to verify whether there is use of visual narratives supported by photography by Portuguese NGDOs and whether, how and for what purposes they are used and, in some way, the “quality” of that same use. All this with the ultimate objective that this research allows the creation of a robust analysis structure for the use of visual narratives by NGDOs and leaves a set of conclusions and recommendations for a more efficient and effective use of these narratives. As we mentioned previously, communicating the effectiveness and impact of its interventions is/should be, to a large extent, a fundamental part of an NGDO's communication strategy as it represents the achievement of its mission, its social value and, ultimately, justifying its reason for existing. Only by producing social change or social impact can the specific legal status of these organizations, their access to lines of financing aimed at Cooperation and Education for Development and their relationship with national and international financiers in this area be justified. It is therefore important to understand whether Portuguese NGDOs are using images to support their strategic communication, particularly in terms of the effectiveness and social impact of their interventions, as this dimension is fundamental to giving visibility to their causes/mission and also to continue to have support for their interventions. Support they need to continue working in the contexts in which they operate, whether from communities, peers or donors/funders. In a second line of objectives, it is also intended to understand whether there are other uses/objectives that visual (photographic) narratives assume within the scope of communication by Portuguese NGDOs, their specific role in the strategic communication of these organizations and whether the use of images and these narratives is carried out in line with the ethical and deontological values affirmed by these organizations. We can therefore state that this investigation aims to verify, in the first instance, whether there is a specific role of visual narratives supported by photography in communicating change/social impact of Portuguese NGDOs, whether they fulfill other communication objectives (which and how) and whether these narratives emerge aligned with strategic communication, respecting ethical and deontological values and principles. Giving visibility to the social problems experienced, making the “invisible” visible to people and communities, peers and other relevant stakeholders, “decoding” social change by making this information accessible and intelligible to everyone is fundamental in terms of the sustainability of NGDOs’ intervention and the fulfillment of the humanitarian mission they undertake. What is largely unseen does not exist, what is not understood is not valued and if concepts such as change or social impact are not “translated” their reading will be confined to a specialized and very restricted audience, negatively impacting the sustainability of NGDOs and their intervention and, much more important, their ability to help those in need. In this research, we will seek to understand how the communication of these organizations, specifically that carried out with visual support (photography) can be a fundamental element for them to fulfill their mission of being catalysts/drivers of social change.
Translated title of the contributionThe use of photographic narratives to communicate the social impact of interventions by Portuguese NGDOs
Original languagePortuguese
  • Ribeiro, Nelson, Supervisor
Publication statusIn preparation - 2025


  • Communication
  • Social change
  • Development
  • Social impact
  • Storytelling
  • Visual storytelling
  • Photography


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