Just last year, the United Nations finalized the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a group of objectives that will continue the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) journey to make the world a better place.

The global goals for sustainable development were ratified this past September as part of the United Nations’ annual meeting by 193 member states. Building on the MDGs, the SDGs were established following the largest multiple stakeholder consultation process of its kind. The process included 11 issue-based consultations, 83 national consultations and a number of door-to-door surveys in order to involve all countries and groups in creating the SDGs. Any group that doesn’t get on board quickly will be playing catch-up in the coming years.

The U.N. has already shown its commitment to the SDGs, but with the target areas ranging from ending poverty to achieving universally accessible healthcare, the goals are achievable but challenging. The success of the SDGs will take a coordinated effort from many groups, including the public sector and nonprofits, but especially from the private sector. The key role that corporations will play in this effort was highlighted during the 2015 Private Sector Forum in New York that was held in conjunction with the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit.

The private sector definitely is important to the success of the SDGs, now the question is, why should a corporation care? How can they get involved?

Unlike the MDGs before them, the SDGs are more business-oriented. According to a U.N. report, “In addition to eliminating poverty, the new framework will need to address the drivers of change, such as economic growth, job creation, reduced inequality and innovation that makes better and more careful use of natural resources. Industry plays a prominent role in advancing all these drivers.”

As the report points out, the sector’s international reach and business practices can enact real change and innovation. Corporations can reach developing regions to spur sustainable economic growth, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and champion peace and gender equality. All of these things, while being good for the world, are also good for business.

The private sector can also align CSR strategies with the SDGs, encourage skills-based volunteering for SDG progress among employees, include global causes in workplace giving campaigns, and raise awareness of the SDGs and efforts to achieve them among staff and the public.

Additionally, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has estimated that if the SDGs are to be successful, they will require between $3.3 and $4.5 trillion in funding each year—and that’s in the developing world alone. At the current level of funding from both the public and private sectors, there is still a funding gap that needs to be filled. We need to close this gap, but we can’t do that without investment from the private sector and private philanthropy in general (corporations, foundations, individuals). Without their assistance, the SDGs cannot succeed.

The upcoming Charities@Work conference this March will discuss private sector involvement in the SDGs through IMPACT 2030, a collaboration of international leaders from the private sector, nonprofits and governments that are working towards the success of the SDGs. The session, led by Chris Jarvis from founding partner RealizedWorth, will officially kick-off the conference on March 28 at 3pm, and will explore specifically what can be done to mobilize corporate volunteers to contribute directly to the success of the U.N.’s SDGs.

Achieving the SDGs would mean a safer, cleaner, more peaceful world for all, but that success will require commitment, participation and coordination from all kinds of groups—from governments and NGOs, to individuals and the private sector. While the next 15 years will bring challenges, they will also bring change as we work together to overcome those hurdles and meet these goals.

To find out how to use the SDGs to shape your strategy, join us at the 15th Annual Charities@Work Summit in New York on March 28th – 30th, 2016. Click here to register.

For children everywhere, education is the best hope for breaking free from poverty. Yet even school supplies are hard to come by for the millions of U.S. children whose families struggle just to pay rent and buy food. To help ensure these children have the tools they need to learn, World Vision provides school essentials throughout the year to students in greatest need.

“The need is huge this year,” says Reed Slattery, warehouse coordinator for World Vision’s Pacific Northwest field site. “It’s heartbreaking to see so many families that want their children to do well in school, but can’t afford the supplies. Without supplies, students whose families can’t make ends meet begin the year at a significant disadvantage.”

Across the country corporations are rolling up their sleeves and hosting SchoolTools events to provide basic school supplies to help U.S. children in poverty.  These team-building activities are helping employers to provide opportunities to give back.  The events are high-impact team experiences that give direct help and hope to children and communities in the United States. Providing children with their own school supplies builds self-esteem and also frees up family resources for other essentials such as food, medicine, and utilities.

Click to view the 2013 Charities@Work SchoolTools event in action.
Click to view the 2013 Charities@Work SchoolTools event in action.

On April 3rd, 2013 in Grand Hyatt, NY, at the annual Charities@Work summit, volunteers came together and built 400 brand-new backpacks filled with basic school supplies such as, pencils, notebooks, glue, crayons, a ruler, and more.  In a carnival like setting, on August 28th, 2013, World Vision and Global Impact hosted an event where schoolchildren received these new backpacks. The day included games, bouncy toys, face painting, photo booths and a barbeque lunch. These gifts can last a lifetime, providing children not only with basic learning tools, but also with the added confidence he or she needs to be successful in school. It also encourages the kids and their families that their community is looking out for them.

Lucas holds his new backpack as he sits with his mother, Nelly, following the New York distribution. (Photo: Sigfrido Jeff Padilla)

“This really is a blessing,” says Nelly, a mom who brought her 11-year-old son, Lucas, to the New York event at World Vision’s warehouse in the Bronx.

“This is one less thing that I have to worry about getting for him. I feel a lot better knowing that he has a good head start for this new school year. Thank you so much for your kindness. This really means a lot.”

Among a community’s most valuable assets are its children and youth. Children deserve the right to learn, and every family deserves the right to see their children achieve their fullest potential. For children growing up in poverty, education can be the key that unlocks the door to a brighter future.


Register Now! Join us this spring, April 3-4, 2014 for the Charities@Work 13th Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship.  The Annual Charities@Work Summit is one of the country’s leading conferences on employee engagement and corporate social responsibility.  Attendees include Fortune 500 companies across all sectors of business, each with philanthropic and employee engagement programs of varying sophistication and a desire to collaborate on best practices for practical improvements.

MSF 2Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières USA, a Global Impact charity partner, recently opened a new medical facility in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Like any medical facility in an urban area, the new 70-bed surgical hospital sees a lot of road accidents and civilian gunshot injuries. In addition, though the Afghan region is safer that it was in recent years, remnants of war—like stray bullets or rockets—continue to put people’s lives at risk.

One day, a family rushed in with their 14-year-old son. Ali [patient name has been changed to protect privacy] had been playing with friends in a field when they found something they said looked like a battery. It was probably a bomb detonator because it exploded when they touched the two wires that were sticking out of it. Ali had shrapnel in his face and serious injuries to his hands and arms. He was lucky and will fully recover from his injuries. His brother, however, was permanently blinded by the blast. Both boys could have suffered far worse had it not been for the Doctors Without Borders medical facility.

Prior to the arrival of Doctors Without Borders in August 2011, the 250,000 people living in Kunduz had no access to adequate trauma care. The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is equipped with an emergency room, two operating theaters, and an intensive care unit. A good hospital does not exist in this part of Afghanistan, so the Doctors Without Border facility is filling a very real need. The facility is much appreciated by the locals. Many patients used to go all the way to Pakistan to get specialized care.

CARE for success storyIndia is characterized by a rich cultural diversity, part of which includes more than 67 million people who belong to indigenous tribal groups. Many of these groups have been socially and economically excluded for much of modern history. Today nearly half of tribal families live in poverty—a rate similar to where the general population was two decades ago. Only about 30 percent of indigenous adults and less than 25 percent of indigenous women can read and write.

In Madhya Pradesh, India’s second largest state, economic growth has largely bypassed tribal groups who account for more than a quarter of the state’s population. Many indigenous children in this state are out of school, malnourished and in poor health. India has one of the highest rates of childhood malnutrition in the world; 43 percent of children are underweight—a percentage higher than that found in much of sub-Saharan Africa.

CARE, a Global Impact charity partner, helps tribal communities organize and communicate with authorities to ensure government services are meeting their needs. CARE also works with government staff to improve the quality of health care in Anganwadi health centers and the quality of education offered to tribal groups. With support from the project, families are creating new income-generating activities that empower them with access to better nutrition, education and healthcare.
With more than six decades of experience in India, including landmark programs to improve health and nutrition for millions of women and children, CARE had the expertise to help Madhya Pradesh’s tribal communities achieve significant, sustainable changes. As a long-time government partner, CARE also had a trusted voice valued by the Indian government.

After talking with CARE, the Indian government agreed that if CARE could raise $31,000, they would match those funds with a grant of $450,000 to support new programming in Madhya Pradesh. CARE staff turned to the Impact Fund for support. By offering flexible funding, the Impact Fund allowed CARE to take advantage of this unforeseen opportunity with the Indian government. The return on investment was impressive: for every $1 from the Impact Fund, the Indian government gave $14.

In 2011 CARE successfully launched the Madhya Pradesh Tribal—SEHAT Project in partnership with the Indian government. This far-reaching and transformative project would not exist without the generous contributions made to the Impact Fund. Making a donation to the Impact Fund offers a vital source of revenue for CARE’s work, allowing the organization to innovate, launch new initiatives and continue successful programs that drive sustainable change.

Oxfam 1The harvest season has just ended in Thai Nguyen Province, and the vast terraces are filled with rows of freshly harvested rice stalks in countless small paddy fields. It was a good harvest, says 41-year-old Chu Thi Thanh Khuong, as she shows visitors bags of rice stacked up to two meters high.

Khuong farms on two small plots of rice paddies, a total of 10 sao (nearly an acre) in Dong Dat commune of Thai Nguyen’s Phu Luong district. She attributes the good harvest to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a package of good agricultural practices for hand-planted rice that increases yields while using less seeds, water and fertilizers.

Oxfam America, a Global Impact charity partner, has been helping to promote SRI in Vietnam for nearly six years, and has made it possible for farmers to receive ongoing training in these methods. Oxfam works with local partner organizations, as well as Vietnam’s Ministry of Rural Development, to promote SRI to small-scale farmers. Today more than 1.3 million farmers in Vietnam have embraced this innovative farming method, a five-fold increase from 2009.

SRI practices involve five simple steps including soil preparation, plant and water management. Farmers transplant seedlings earlier and space them individually and in square patterns farther apart to reduce competition for light, water and nutrients.

Robust root systems and bigger and healthier plants grow more grains of rice. Khuong now produces 2.7 metric tons of rice from her two paddy fields, as compared to just 1.8 tons grown with conventional methods, a 50 percent increase. On average, SRI farmers increase their yield by 500 kilograms (1,110 pounds), and earn extra income of $130 per hectare in just one cropping season (a hectare is just under 2.5 acres). This is a significant sum in a country where the average annual income is around $1,200.

According to a report by Africare, Oxfam and World Wildlife Fund, SRI practices have also contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gases. By improving nutrient use efficiency, farmers reduce the use of water, fertilizers, herbicide and pesticide, resulting in reduced emissions of methane, one of the most prevalent and dangerous greenhouse gases.
Farmers also reported positive change in community relations as a result of using these techniques. SRI farmers—most of whom are women—learn together and help each other in the fields. This practice has created a culture of mutual support in rural communities.

Malawi MSFThanks to help from Global Impact charity partner, Heifer International, anyone visiting the village of Msonthi, Malawi, today will see ox carts, bicycles and healthy children going to school, but this was not always the case. In years past, many families did not have a stable enough income source to provide for their children. Locals were experiencing chronic malnutrition, malaria and diarrheal disease—three of Africa’s leading childhood killers.

Malawi farmer Daniel and his two young grandsons, Garfield and Mizeki, often struggled to satisfy their basic needs. Before receiving help from Heifer, the family’s health suffered greatly. “It was difficult for us to find food everyday,” recalls Daniel. They ate cornmeal porridge and pumpkin leaves. “We were very weak,” he remembers. As a farmer, Daniel was only able to save the equivalent of about $14 each year. “We were living hand to mouth,” he said.

But in late 2001, when Daniel received a cow from Heifer, this all changed. Since receiving their cow, the family’s health has dramatically improved. Daniel says, “In the past my family was malnourished, but now, with milk to drink, they are not.” He adds, “They were getting ill frequently, but now that has all stopped.” Thanks to his Heifer cow, Daniel is earning more than $100 every month from milk sales. In addition to milk, the cows produce a lot of valuable manure. Before, Daniel could expect to harvest roughly one ox cart of maize per acre. However, because they now have so much manure, Daniel’s farm can produce about two carts per acre—twice as much! In the garden where they grow their potatoes, they used to only be able to harvest one or two bags. Now they can get 10 bags per year out of the same land and are earning an additional $555 annually from potato sales.

For little Garfield and Mizeki, a Heifer cow is giving them an opportunity that no one in their family has ever before had: the chance to grow up free from poverty. It all adds up to one very grateful grandfather, two very healthy little boys and a very happy ending. Daniel’s family was one of 30 in this remote village who signed up for a dairy project.

To look at Daniel’s family before and after they received their cow is like night and day. Before Heifer, they lived in an old, one-room house with a leaky thatched roof and mud walls. After Heifer, Daniel was able to build what he describes as “a good house made of bricks with a tin roof.” It is strong, clean, safe, and as Daniel’s daughter, Rebecca, adds, “It doesn’t leak.”

Daniel also knows that his actions today will be felt for generations to come. He became a donor when he passed on his first calf to another family. Daniel’s cow has since given birth two more times, growing Daniel’s herd, providing more milk to drink or sell, and ensuring very bright and promising futures for Garfield and Mizeki.

unicefYuleini lives in Barrio Petare, one of the many slums perched perilously on the hills around Caracas, Venezuela. The thousands of houses that make up the neighborhood are cobbled together out of scraps of corrugated metal, slabs of wood and a few bricks. The home that Yuleini shares with her mother, her stepfather and her four brothers and sisters is among the most dilapidated, even by Petare’s standards.

During the day, when Yuleini’s mother and stepfather are at work, it is up to the 13-year-old to keep the house and care for the four younger children: cook their meals in an old stove, wash their clothes and hang them on the metal sheets that double as walls and play with them amidst the rubble that surrounds their home.

Since 2004, however, Yuleini has been able to do something she had never done before: go to school. A joint project of UNICEF, the Light and Life Foundation and UNILEVER has enabled her to attend community classrooms. This program, according to Global Impact charity partner the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, is especially designed to provide an education to children deemed “excluded and invisible.” “Going to school has changed my life, I’ve learnt many things and made friends,” Yuleini says.

The classroom has become a safe haven for Yuleini and the 5,000 boys and girls who are currently benefiting from the project. So far, 60 percent of the children attending the community classrooms have been integrated into the formal education system.

The many difficulties that Yuleini has faced in her short life have made her wise beyond her years. “I’ve seen what happens to other kids in my neighborhood who don’t go to school,” she says. “They spend their days sniffing glue, begging for money and getting into trouble. I feel sorry for them.”

She is especially mindful of what can happen to young girls who live in poverty and have little access to education. “I don’t want to get married and have children, at least not anytime soon,” she declares. “I want to work and study.” Thanks to these community classrooms, Yuleini and thousands like her are getting a chance to write their own destinies.

girl syria with logoMillions of Syrian children are suffering as a result of a horrific conflict — one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time — which is now stretching into its third year. Two million people have fled to neighboring countries, but many more remain in dire need of assistance.

Nour* is only four years old, but has already seen the hardships life can bring. She and her family spent several months eking out an existence in a disused industrial building in Lebanon near the Syrian border. They were stuck in a town under siege, living in fear and surviving on a little bread and tea for weeks. They finally chose to take the risk of fleeing the area when their supplies ran out and Nour’s baby sister, Maya*, became malnourished.

Global Impact charity partner Save the Children is on the ground helping to keep children like Nour and Maya safe, providing the basics they need, like food and blankets and offering programs to help them cope with tragedy.

When the Nour’s family escaped and found help from Save the Children, Nour’s mother explained that certain groups began controlling the meager supplies and charging extortionate amounts for what was available.

Thousands of children and their families continue to stream into neighboring countries. Most of those who’ve escaped are living in makeshift shelters, unsuitable buildings or in overcrowded camps, amid growing shortages of food, medicine and water.

Save the Children is helping children recover from their experiences within Syria and across the region, to make sure they can access education and to ensure that families have the basic necessities they need to survive — including healthcare, warm clothes, nutritious food and shelter materials.

* Names have been changed to protect identities.

india-school-1Once confined to a life of selling lentil pakodas at a railway station, Global Impact charity partner World Vision convinced Kushboo of the importance of education and going to school. Now, she’s busy with her studies and wants to become a teacher.

After Kushboo’s father abandoned her family, her mother could not afford to send Kushboo to school. With a monthly income of just US$25, Kushboo had to contribute to keep the family afloat. “I had to give up my dreams of studying,” says Kushboo. “If I had my father also working, then I could have studied.” Kushboo went to work selling lentil pakodas at the railway station after spending her mornings helping her grandmother prepare them. This continued for years, until volunteers with World Vision’s Patna Child Restoration Project identified her as a high-risk child and approached her at her snack station when she was 13.

At first she and her family reacted with suspicion. But after many visits, counseling and teaching them about why Kushboo needed an education, the family began to trust the World Vision volunteers. Kushboo’s grandmother finally pronounced her blessing.

“I am not educated, my daughter is not educated, which is why we are in poverty. All I want is a good life for my granddaughter — a life better than what we have,” says Kushboo’s grandmother.

Finally, trading the frying wok for a pencil, Kushboo began her educational journey. With no basic foundations, the transition wasn’t smooth.

“We coached her for one whole year. She didn’t know anything. After a year, we mainstreamed her into government school. Now, after two years of coaching at our center, there is a lot of difference. She is very strong in math,” says Sanjeev, a World Vision staff member.

Not only did Kushboo turn a new leaf in the world of education, her personality blossomed, too.

“She smiles now, she laughs. There is a great difference in Kushboo’s personality and mannerisms,” says Seema, World Vision staff member.

Kushboo no longer views her living condition as a deterrent to fulfill her dreams. She has become the first person in her family to go to school.

“I want to be a teacher just like Sanjeev and teach children like me,” Kushboo says.

“My study life started in the center. I feel safe and secure here rather than on the streets. If World Vision was not here, this chance to study would be impossible. It has changed my behavior, my way of thinking; I can do anything if I am provided with an opportunity.”

I have worked in the international philanthropic sector for more than 20 years. Each day, my colleagues and I have the same goal—get one step closer to raising the resources needed to eradicate poverty the world over. The challenges we face as we try to do this are formidable. Despite the enormous strides we have made towards this goal in the past few decades, much remains to be done. So how do we tackle our problems? Two words: collective action.

The problems we face are too great for any one group to take on alone; we need collective action to tackle these issues. While we’ve known for some time that multi-sector partnerships and collaboration are necessary to deal with challenges like global poverty, disease and gender-based violence, the tools or outlets for organizations to work together can be inefficient or worse yet, nonexistent. A variety of organizations are working to bridge this gap, including two with which we partner, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureates Collaborative and Clinton Global Initiative.

Another promising opportunity to create and support collective action lies with harnessing the power of charities that are focused on common issues. To meet this need, Global Impact has created High Impact Funds. These funds bring together under one umbrella organizations that are leaders in specific thematic areas, including women and girls, health, education, disaster relief and clean water. We then leverage this collective action to make a larger scale impact and provide donors, whether it be an individual, a corporation or a foundation, the opportunity to take advantage of these funds so that their gifts and investments go further toward helping those, creating a more lasting impact.

Photo courtesy of J. Abrahamson/ICRW

In honor of International Women’s Day, which is just around the corner (March 8), we are launching our Women & Girls High Impact Fund. Investing in women and girls is an essential ingredient in bringing an end to global poverty. By investing in a girl, she can lift herself out of poverty and abuse, altering the condition of her family, her community and, ultimately, the world.

Global poverty has decreased over the last three decades, yet the percentage of women living in poverty continues to rise. The majority of the roughly one billion people in the world who live in extreme poverty are women. Two-thirds of the children denied primary education are girls. Sixty-six percent of women are illiterate. Women control less than ten percent of the world’s assets while performing two-thirds of all labor to produce more than half of the world’s food. When women and girls are left behind and undervalued, the world’s problems are compounded; when mothers lack the means to thrive, their children suffer as well, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty. We must step up and end this cycle.

Photo courtesy of World Vision

To increase the resources available to organizations helping women and girls in the developing world, Global Impact is partnering with some of the leading NGOs for this important work; CARE, World Vision, Plan International USA and the International Center for Research on Women. Our Women & Girls Fund helps by offering beneficiaries education opportunities, protection from gender-based violence, prenatal and early childhood care, protection from child marriage and micro-lending support.

Easy-to-implement funding solutions, like High Impact Funds, give corporations an efficient, effective and simple way to boost their global citizenship. And, when integrated with a traditional workplace giving campaign, these funds can make a corporation’s impact even greater, while simultaneously fostering employee engagement. It is my great hope that programs like Global Impact’s High Impact Funds will change the world by improving the lives of beneficiaries and inspiring collective action among charities, donors and corporations.