Since The 12for12k Challenge folks (of whom I’m a huge supporter) chose UNICEF’s Believe in Zero campaign as the June charity, there has been a lot of activity, not all of it positive.
There have also been attacks on the choice of this charity on Twitter and other social media sites and even the venerable old sage of 12for12k Danny Brown has come in for some stick.
So I find myself wondering what is going on here? What is it about UNICEF that causes so many different opinions, from those that support the organization and those that seem to think it has no merit at all.
I thought it might be worthwile to do a little investigating and see what this organization is all about.
UNICEF was founded in 1946 to help deal with the problem of millions of starving children in the aftermath of the Second World War. Here’s a video, narrated by Sir Roger Moore on the organization’s history:
I don’t think anyone would disagree with UNICEF’s mission – there is no question that the it has saved many thousands of children’s lives since 1946 and played a part in improving the lives of many many more.
So why would the choice of an organization doing such good work, where it’s workers are dedicated enough to literally put their lives on the line (see the clippings I’ve included) in some of the toughest parts of the world cause so much controversy? Surely people working to protect children, often right in the middle of active conflicts, deserve support from those of us safe at home with our families?
I’m inclined to believe that the biggest issue UNICEF has is that it is part of the United Nations. The UN isn’t the most popular organization here in the United States, largely due to its history of poor management, but also because the UN is structured so that the US doesn’t get its way all the time. The fact that any of the five permanent Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) has a power of veto has often stopped the US from pushing through its agenda. Actually, I see this as a good thing since the US doesn’t have a very good foreign policy track record of late!
So UNICEF is having to operate in the field while carrying the burden of its unpopular owner – easy to see why there is a lack of enthusiasm. Of course, there are also advantages with being part of the UN, worldwide scope, access to government leaders and funding way above what any other childrens charity could hope to attain. I wonder if the huge budget of UNICEF is also an issue for 12for12k supporters? No matter what we were to raise, it is unlikely to show as a big line item on the UNICEF balance sheet.
While I do believe that UNICEF does great work and I’ve personally contributed to 12for12k this month (and certainly encourage you to do the same, because it is a great cause) I am somewhat disappointed that UNICEF has not played any role in the June campaign. The 12for12k Challenge relies on support – not just from supporters and contributors, but from the charities themselves. UNICEF could had actively supported 12for12k on their site and their various blogs, to the benefit of both. It would raise more for UNICEF in June and making more people aware of 12for12k would create a higher public awareness and better results for the charities lined up for the rest of the year. Instead UNICEF has been silent. Not my idea of a partner.
So today, I feel a little let down. Let down by people who could do more to support 12for12k instead of just complaining and by UNICEF which I thought could do so much to help, but has not come through. I’m certainly not feeling let down by the actual UNICEF workers and supporters who are doing great things or by social media users who have made contributions to the campaign.
So please contribute to support the great work being done by UNICEF and please consider becoming an active supporter of 12for12k. It is a great opportunity for us regular people to get together and actually make a difference. Rather than sit back and criticize, get involved and make it better. Go to 12for12k.org for more info.
I’d love to know if you agree with my thoughts. How can we work together to help 12for12k be more effective? What about that Roger Moore video commentary? Would you view UNICEF differently if it was part of the Gates Foundation rather than the UN?