The Best Way to Put Children First

January 12, 2015

Humanitarian Circle members helped raise well over $1 million in unrestricted funds to support UNICEF's lifesaving work.  Mr. Bill Dietz, Jr., a member of the Midwest Board, played a critical role in that success by contributing to a match pool for unrestricted donations. 

Mr. Bill Dietz, Jr., Humanitarian Circle member and Midwest Region Boardmember, understands the value of unrestricted funds to children’s well-being.

I have been a donor for more than ten years. Our Midwest Regional Board has been working for a few years on a very targeted campaign – The Eliminate Project to prevent deaths from maternal and neonatal tetanus. It's a great project, a tremendously important campaign. But I have learned that in general, making an unrestricted donation is the best way to give UNICEF the leeway to put the money to use where it is most needed. And that’s important right now, when we are responding to so many emergencies, and what was so urgent about the end-of-year match campaign.

“Unrestricted funding is the best way to give UNICEF the leeway to put money to use where it is most needed.”

I was at a luncheon recently with a woman who works for the State Department and she made the same point: in emergencies, organizations have to have the flexibility of unrestricted, un-earmarked funds.

I’m also a contributor to the Bridge Fund, which goes hand in hand with unrestricted donations. The Bridge Fund allows UNICEF to have access to resources that, under ordinary circumstances, might not be available for six months to a year after designated. It allows UNICEF to, basically, borrow the money promised for six months from now and spend it on a critical need.

This sort of fiscal flexibility was certainly appreciated when the organization needed to respond quickly to the Ebola outbreak, for example. Now, that sort of contribution may not spell a great return for an investor – but for what it does for your heart, it’s a great return.

I’ve had the great fortune to have seen much of UNICEF’s work in the field, and the more people I meet, the more my appreciation and respect for their work grows.

“For what the Bridge Fund does for your heart, it’s a great return.”

I met the people working in the Copenhagen supply division, people who were working in the field in Uganda, people who deliver aid in South Sudan; I've met people who actually put their lives on the line on a daily basis fighting for the cause of the children of the world.

The program work I witnessed was not just fundamental lifesaving interventions. For example, in Uganda, in addition to health care facilities and schools and early learning centers, we also visited a UNICEF-supported innovation lab. They are doing some fantastic things there — the Digital Drum, bringing internet access to remote areas using satellites and solar power,  using mobile phones for health reporting and response, and mobile birth registration.

The work that they are able to accomplish in these labs is fantastic. And what is most amazing is that, for us in America, when we think about a “lab” we are thinking about some high-tech building but they are doing it out in an open-air shed almost. It’s not something you’d put in a corporate brochure!