Monthly donors are a major reason why UNICEF can make that claim, according to Karla Coello, UNICEF USA Senior Director for Monthly Giving. “Every year, UNICEF responds to about 300 humanitarian emergencies, from conflicts to natural disasters. And in 2020, COVID-19 helped push that number up to 455.” says Coello. “Emergency appeals bring in important revenue — but after the emergency, there are still a lot of things children need to make life bearable. That’s what our monthly donors provide.”
Helping before, during and after a crisis
When drought destroys crops, conflict forces families from their homes, or disaster strikes, children suffer most. And in some countries, even the best of times are perilous for their youngest citizens. Every day, around 14,000 children under 5 die from preventable causes. That was before the coronavirus pandemic, which now threatens to roll back decades of progress for kids. More children than ever are in danger because they can't get essential health services. COVID-19 health-service disruptions in 68 countries could keep 80 million children under the age of one from getting their routine vaccinations.
But since the COVID-19 pandemic began, UNICEF has been working hard to preserve those lives. Working through the COVAX facility, UNICEF is aiming to procure and distribute 1.4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to low- and lower-middle-income countries to ensure vaccine equity and restart children's lives. While running the largest vaccination campaign in its 75-year history, UNICEF has continued providing life-sustaining services to families and children while delivering essential supplies to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Soap for handwashing — one the best defenses against COVID-19 — masks, personal protective equipment for frontline health workers battling the virus, safe water and access to education for children forced to learn from home during global school closures are just some of the emergency relief measures and supplies families and children have depended upon UNICEF to provide.
Protecting children before, during and after a crisis requires a reliable source of funding. The constant stream of revenue provided by monthly donations enables UNICEF to reach children with what they need most when they need it.
Protecting children before, during and after a crisis requires a reliable source of funding. The constant stream of revenue provided by monthly donations enables UNICEF to reach children with what they need most when they need it, prepositioning emergency supplies before a disaster strikes and continuing to build sustainable solutions after an immediate crisis has subsided.
Funding large-scale interventions
Monthly giving is also crucial to funding large-scale interventions. Thanks to UNICEF’s global immunization campaigns, the world is now nearly free of polio, and 47 out of 59 countries identified as high-risk for maternal and neonatal tetanus have fully eliminated the disease linked to nearly half of all deaths of children under 5.
Empowering UNICEF to combat every danger
If there’s a danger to children, chances are UNICEF has a program to combat it. Empowering UNICEF to maintain a consistent presence on the ground in more than 190 countries and territories is a motivator for monthly giving.
“The reason I chose UNICEF for my donation was all the different projects the organization has across the globe,” said Sweety Sharma in a survey of supporters UNICEF USA conducted. “I give several times a year because UNICEF’s work is so important to children around the world,” said another monthly donor. “I want to be a part of that service in some small way.”
Being part of a team
“UNICEF USA monthly donors are our most engaged, most loyal supporters,” says Coello. “So we do our best to make them feel appreciated by keeping them thoroughly updated about the powerful impact they are having and showing them how much they matter to us.” In turn, monthly donors tend to be dedicated supporters. “Protecting children — giving them opportunities to play, learn, feel safer, heal — is critical to us,” explained another survey respondent, expressing a commitment that UNICEF USA’s Monthly Giving team seeks to match with personalized service.
Supporters who sign up with UNICEF USA to give monthly automatically become members of the Guardian Circle, which affords them a number of benefits, including:
A dedicated team for answering questions via email or phone
Annual statements to make tax time easier
An easy-to-use donor portal that simplifies modifying gift amounts, updating payment methods and making other changes, including the timing of donations with the option to cancel at any point
Targeted communications in the form of monthly statements detailing giving to date and a quarterly eight-page newsletter with stories from the field
“We have some donors who are on a fixed income, others who can afford to make substantial monthly donations," says Coello. “Whether you give $5 or $700 a month, you are super important to us. What’s important is that all our donors really want to give and help children. And that’s amazing.”
UNICEF USA’s Guardian Circle program was designed to help members streamline their financial housekeeping so that they can be strategic. Those who believe that giving to children is important want to ensure that every dollar donated has maximum impact. Planning giving in advance and dividing annual gifts into smaller monthly payments make giving easier. The Monthly Giving Team also keeps Guardian Circle members informed of match opportunities to make their support go further — a tactic that can easily turn a monthly gift of $5 into $55 and have even greater impact for children.
"There was an exclusive offer where UNICEF matched our donation by 10 times," said one donor. "We felt as though our donation was going a long way."
Giving monthly is also a way to avoid cash crunches. Unexpected expenses — car repairs, appliance replacements and the like — can force potential donors to put off a yearly donation until November or December, a time when holiday spending often puts extra strain on the family purse. A better approach can be to add a modest gift to a monthly budget and watch it quickly and easily add up to significant support for the world's children by year’s end.
Easing the burden at tax time
It can be time-consuming and difficult to track charitable donations. At the end of the year, Guardian Circle monthly supporters receive one statement that makes filing tax returns easier — and it's gratifying to see how much good has been done for the world’s most vulnerable children.
Top photo: Three-month-old Christelle plays with her mother, Anna, in the health center of Gonzagueville, a suburb of Abidjan, in southern Côte d'Ivoire. The baby is about to be weighed and vaccinated, just two of the vital health services UNICEF has worked hard to maintain during the COVID-19 pandemic. © UNICEF/UNI316644/Frank Dejongh