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UNICEF Executive Board

On day two of Executive Board session, fundraising takes centre stage

UNICEF Image: Executive Board session, 2009
© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0082/Markisz
UNICEF’s Executive Board President, Ambassador Oumar Daou (centre), addresses the board. Beside him are (from left) Deputy Executive Directors Omar Abdi and Hilde F. Johnson, Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, board Secretary Kirsi Madi and Deputy Executive Director Saad Houry.

By Roshni Karwal

NEW YORK, USA, 6 February 2009 – The global economic crisis is forecast to take a toll on UNICEF’s operations in the upcoming year. Against that backdrop, the organization’s private fundraising workplan and proposed budget took centre stage at the Executive Board meeting held at UN headquarters yesterday.

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“We are in a very difficult situation economically,” Private Funding and Partnerships (PFP) Director Philip O'Brien told the board on day two of its first regular session of 2009. “Even if governments can make pledges over two to three years, individuals and corporates are going to be much more responding to changes in markets and the economic crisis.

“There will be a significant impact on us,” he added. “We don’t know how great or small that impact will be.”

Funding projections revised

For 2009, PFP expects to generate $682.3 million in net income – an estimate that already has been downwardly revised by some $200 million in light of the financial downturn.

Despite the downturn, however, countries that pledged support for UNICEF last year maintained or exceeded their levels of funding for 2008.

Adding to the uncertainty caused by the global recession, budget planners must consider volatile financial and currency markets. Sixty per cent of UNICEF’s income is in euros and 50 per cent of its expenditures are in US dollars.

“Any changes between the US dollar and euro will impact us,” said Mr. O’Brien. “Hopefully, we can bear the worst of this crisis.”

UNICEF Image: Executive Board session, 2009
© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0083/Markisz
Private Fundraising and Partnerships Director Philip O’Brien speaks about funding goals on the second day of the UNICEF Executive Board’s first regular session of 2009.

Revenue from greeting cards

One source of UNICEF’s funding in the private sector is its world-famous line of greeting cards and gifts. In 2007, greeting card sales generated $60 million for UNICEF programmes.

“That was a fairly significant profit margin of 35 per cent, and by any business standard that is a very decent margin,” said Mr. O'Brien.

But in one example of the impact of the recession, net revenue from the greeting card business declined in 2008, as fewer consumers and corporations bought or sent cards.

Corporate social responsibility

Another critical source of private funding is UNICEF’s corporate partnerships programme.

Ikea, the global retailer of home furnishings, has been one of UNICEF’s most significant corporate donors over the years. The company has engaged directly in protecting children’s rights through in-kind assistance and other support.

“Ikea has set up and been a key a clear leader in this area,” said Mr. O’Brien. “We hope to see more and more of this, and we continue to help companies put in place corporate social responsibility programmes that relate to children. Those sorts of partnerships are a lot of what our future is about.”

He concluded: “We’d like to see much more use of strategic investment funds moving donors from just being somebody who gives us money to someone who is engaging with us on children’s rights – the whole mobilization of the global children’s agenda.”




5 February 2009:

Private Funding and Partnerships Director Philip O'Brien talks about UNICEF’s newly approved private fundraising workplan.
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UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks to donors during the meeting of the Executive Board.
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