Why I Give to the Bridge Fund

January 30, 2014

Ian Rosenfield is the first board chair of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF's Northwest Region. He and his wife Susanne Caballero have supported the Bridge Fund since its creation.

They recently provided $100,000 in grant support that will allow the Bridge Fund to continue to provide flexible capital for UNICEF emergency supply needs.

We spoke to Ian and Susanne recently about their decision to support the UNICEF Bridge Fund. We have been giving money to UNICEF for a long time, but why the Bridge Fund? Because the Bridge Fund is a unique and interesting tool.

UNICEF runs nearly $3 billion of goods and services through its pipeline, and yet it does not have any way of immediately accessing funds after a disaster or in order to obtain beneficial pricing through bulk purchases.  We were surprised to learn that as a United Nations organization, UNICEF cannot take loans against future income.

“Imagine the scenario: UNICEF needs to buy a million mosquito nets, but it only has cash flow for 200,000.”

Imagine the scenario of UNICEF needing to buy a million mosquito nets over the course of a year, but it only having enough cash flow to buy 200,000 of them right now.  In that situation, UNICEF does not get the benefit of bulk pricing or a single delivery cost, let alone access to all the goods it needs, when it needs them.  With the creation of the Bridge Fund, these ephemeral cash shortfall issues are eliminated.

The idea of getting more from our donation grant than the face value is really interesting. The Bridge Fund does that, again, through beneficial pricing and a compelling rate of return that’s guaranteed by my grant. That creates leverage upon leverage, because $100,000 in donations can be leveraged up three-and-a-half times to become $350,000 worth of buying power. And on top of that, UNICEF is buying supplies at a discount.

“With the Bridge Fund, ephemeral cash shortfall issues are eliminated ...”

Having the ability to contribute this additional leveraging power to UNICEF through a gift to the Bridge fund is extremely satisfying.

With Bridge Fund grants on hand, UNICEF can take quick action to respond to emergencies. The money goes out immediately, and it gets used right when and where it is needed.

We’re also excited that our donation will exist in perpetuity, and that the money will be constantly reused.  As soon as it is replenished, it will be used again, so it’s like the money never went away.

Moreover, the most compelling thing about the Bridge Fund is that it assists UNICEF; an organization with a remarkable track record and a sterling reputation.  It's great that there’s leverage.  It's good to know that the money is instantly accessible.  It is exciting to know that the money gets used over and over again for increased buying power and responsive action.  But what’s the organization?  How good is that organization going to be at deploying the money? That’s where the trustworthiness of UNICEF comes in.

“$100,000 in donations can be leveraged up three-and-a-half times to become $350,000 worth of buying power.”

UNICEF has a proven track record and known ability to deliver goods and services even when no other organization can.  UNICEF has governmental connections and an existing presence in 190 countries.  UNICEF has a proven pass through rate and the ability to get the job done.

This is where UNICEF shines and that is what makes the Bridge Fund so powerful. The Bridge Fund increases the effectiveness of perhaps the world's most effective organization when it comes to protecting and saving the lives of the most vulnerable people on our planet.

Susanne had an awareness of the United Nations and UNICEF from an early age. She was interested in pursuing public international law and went to law school with that interest in mind. Wanting to do something to help people around the world and to raise the standard of living for everyone is just part of who she is. UNICEF is a natural extension of that.

“UNICEF can take quick action to respond to emergencies ... The money gets used right when and where it is needed.”

Ian values the mission of protecting the people in our society who just aren’t able to protect themselves. Unfortunately in a lot of countries that is children and women.

In visiting 50 countries around the world, we’ve developed an understanding of the deep disparity — how much opportunity, how much safety, how much health and wealth we have. We understand that, and we want to be connected to and support the global community.