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UNICEF Corporate and Philanthropic Partnerships

International partnerships: IKEA Social Initiative

Cause-related marketing

© IKEA 2003
IKEA BRÜM Bear 2003

As a global partner of UNICEF, IKEA supports long-term, integrated initiatives that produce measurable results for children. IKEA leverages its global reach by conducting the annual Soft Toy Campaign to support UNICEF.

In the beginning…
By introducing BRÜM Bear in 2003, IKEA spotlighted the importance of playtime in a child’s life and demonstrated how a teddy bear could help make a big “bear hug” of a difference.  For a two-year period (2003-05) IKEA stores around the globe donated $2, £2 or €2 from the sale of each BRÜM soft toy teddy bear – perfect for hugging – to benefit children living in Angola and Uganda.

The IKEA BRÜM Bear soft toy promotion raised US$2.2 million supporting UNICEF’s “Children’s Right to Play” - crucial outreach programmes for children in need. In Angola, 80,000 street children gained basic learning opportunities through play.  In conflict-affected areas of Uganda, 55,000 children in displacement camps were given tools to play; 38,000 children gained access to day care centres and 200 children were reunited with their families.

© IKEA 2008
2008 IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

“€1 is a fortune!”
Following the successful two-year BRÜM Bear campaign, IKEA launched its annual holiday soft toy campaign “€1 is a fortune!” in 2005.  This innovative cause-related marketing campaign today helps fund 40 UNICEF projects in 20 countries across Asia, Africa and CEE/CIS - advancing educational needs of children in Albania, Belarus, Chad, China, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Niger, Russia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.  In Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Niger soft toy funds support health initiatives and in Bulgaria, China, FYR Macedonia, Pakistan and Romania funds support UNICEF child-protection programmes.

One euro from every soft toy that IKEA Group sells during the holiday season in its 258 stores worldwide goes to projects aimed to improve children’s education, health and protection. The success of the IKEA Soft Toy Campaign since its inception has been driven by the commitment and enthusiasm of IKEA customers and co-workers. Since 2003, all Soft Toy Campaign activities have raised a total of US$24 million with record sales in 2008, generating more than US$5.2 million for UNICEF programmes.

This year’s campaign, IKEA Soft Toys will support the 'Schools for Africa' campaign in six countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, South Africa and Madagascar), as well as education and protection projects in China and Russia.

Under the slogan, ‘One euro is a fortune, a child's smile is worth so much’, this year's campagn includes the launch of a fun, interactive website called Soft Toys AID. On the site, the IKEA Soft Toys get together to sing for a better world, and everyone is invited to join them in an attempt to create the world's biggest choir.

Funds support efforts including improving school facilities, access to water and toilets, providing school benches, desks and educational supplies like books, pencils, and writing pads for children and teachers. The money raised from Soft Toy Campaign activities will bring countless smiles to the faces of so many children eager to learn and thrive.

© IKEA 2008
Marianne Barner, Head of IKEA Social Initiative and Children's Ombudsman on a field visit in India, 2008

“We are proud that IKEA can be a part of giving children access to quality education. Together with our customers, we can make a difference for children that really need it,” said Marianne Barner, Head of IKEA Social Initiative and Children's Ombudsman.

How many children in need have directly benefited from the sales of IKEA soft toys since 2003?   7 million children!! …plus millions more around them impacted indirectly.

“When we ensure that children – girls and boys – can receive a rights-based, quality education that is rooted in gender equality, we create a ripple effect of opportunity that impacts generations to come,” says Philip O’Brien, director, Private Fundraising and Partnerships for UNICEF.

Equal access to education for all girls and boys and quality education in a child-friendly environment is the foundation. By working towards the goal for all children to have access to education, it becomes possible to build the knowledge necessary to combat disease and eradicate poverty and hunger.

© IKEA 2007
2007 IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

About IKEA and IKEA Social Initiative
IKEA is a global retailer of home furnishings established in 1943. Its mission focuses on good product design and function at affordable prices. IKEA is highly committed to Corporate Social Responsibility and is one of the industry pioneers in establishing and monitoring codes of conduct and standards of operation in its supply chain.

The IKEA Social Initiative, established in 2005, manages IKEA’s social involvement on a global level. The mission is to improve the rights and life opportunities of the many children. The main partners are the two leading global child-right organisations; UNICEF and Save the Children. IKEA Social Initiative invests in a range of programs with a holistic approach, aiming to create substantial and lasting results.


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Soft Toys 2009

    link through facebook IKEA invites you to join us through facebook in the annual Soft toys campaign to help fund UNICEF education projects all over the world.

Soft toy video on YouTube

  November 2009


18 February 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham Carter reports on the return of books to children in Albania.
 VIDEO  high | low

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Schools for Africa

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