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Why UNICEF? Making The Case For Global Philanthropy

by Latha Sundaram, Midwest Regional Board member

Midwest at Kirk's office

Pictured above - Ashish Prasad, Midwest Board Member, Casey Marsh, Midwest Regional Managing Director, Bill Dietz, Midwest Board Member, Latha Sundaram, Midwest Board Member visiting Senator Mark Kirk's office

As members of the Midwest Board, we get a lot of practice talking to prospective donors about the importance of global giving. No one will ever say they don’t want to help kids around the world, but many ask why they should give to global causes versus addressing problems here at home. We show how helping kids away from home makes us better at home.  It’s not about “choosing” a geography, it’s about putting children first…everywhere.

This discussion is underway in the halls of Congress as well. How do Americans prioritize global versus local efforts?  We had the chance to be a part of this conversation when we attended UNICEF’s annual Regional Advocacy Retreat in Washington, D.C. on March 23-24. Along with our regional director and two fellow board members, we met with seven Illinois legislators to lobby on behalf of UNICEF.  

Midwest in DC

Pictured above Latha Sundaram, Midwest Regional Board Member, Casey Marsh, Midwest Regional Managing Director

No matter how many times I dreamed of this moment as a teenager on the speech and debate team, I was beyond nervous.  But I was relieved when I met the amazing UNICEF team from D.C.and New York who briefed us so thoroughly before letting us loose on the Hill. Full of  facts and guidance, we entered the meetings excited to advocate. We asked our legislators to support $132 million  for UNICEF in  fiscal year 2016 appropriations and to secure cosponsors for the bipartisan “Girls Count” birth registration bill.  

But we didn’t just talk legislation. We talked about innovative programs like UNICEF Kid Power that will soon launch in Illinois. And as everyone loves a good time for a good cause, we invited them to attend our upcoming UNICEF Hope Gala in Chicago.

The highlight was when one congressman indicated support for UNICEF and then told us about some of the amazing child welfare effort programs he implemented back in Chicago. He echoed what we all believed—child welfare is an important cause regardless of geography. It’s not about choosing one area of the world over another; rather, it’s about choosing to put children first. We came home excited to know that our legislators share our desire to inspire locally and impact globally.