World Vision’s $500M campaign amid sequestration

An orange World Vision band on top of two photos of children. Photo by: weskriesel / CC BY-NC-SA

While many groups brace for the sequestration cuts which will deduct about 5 percent from U.S. foreign assistance, other organizations are looking at other donor sources to fill the funding gap.

One of the latter is World Vision, which this month unveiled its For Every Child Campaign.

The target: to raise $500 million by the end of 2015 to impact 10 million children and 20 million people through initiatives on water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH), health, child protection, microfinance and church partnerships.

World Vision’s Senior Vice President and Campaign Chairman Chris Glynn says it is a “reasonable but ambitious target” for which the Christian humanitarian organization has already raised $328 million from private donors during the initial public phase of the campaign ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Glynn tells Devex about why and how they launched their biggest campaign in the face of impending budget cuts.

What is new about the Campaign For Every Child?

This is the most far-reaching endeavor in World Vision’s history. For the first time we’re taking on a capital campaign, much like universities or hospitals will do. However, instead of bricks and mortar, we’re working towards a measurable goal of children’s lives impacted.

We selected based on our strengths in the field in certain sectors and looked for countries where we had some of our best programs that could be easily and quickly scaled up. That sort of infrastructure already in place ensures that we could leverage donor money in the best way, with more of the overall cost going toward making a difference in people’s lives as opposed to building start up programs and infrastructure. We also worked with our staff in the field to find top priority items where we could make a major, measurable difference. We then combined these with areas where donors were excited to engage with the campaign and see change.

Why did World Vision embark on the $500-million campaign, in view of the U.S. sequester cuts?

The goal of our For Every Child campaign is to work faster, to work better and get more people out of poverty — it’s a massive scaling up for us. World Vision made the decision to embark on the campaign in 2010 when all around us were signs to do just the opposite: signs to be cautious, to hunker down, to just ride out the storm. 2010 was when we saw the Dow dropping and unemployment skyrocketing.

While everyone was in retreat, we had a moment in time to do amazing things. In these uncertain financial times, the children and the poor suffer the most. While everyone else was focused inward, World Vision was looking out to our field staff and our programs and we were focused on how we would continue to help children despite the economic challenges we faced.

How will the cuts affect World Vision?

While we still aren’t sure exactly how the cuts will impact specific World Vision programs, we do know that international aid programs that reduce extreme poverty and provide life-saving assistance are being cut by about 5.3 percent. The sequester has fallen disproportionately on foreign assistance, even though these programs amount to just one percent of the total federal budget.

While cutting these programs will do very little to reduce the deficit, non-profit organizations estimate that overall the cuts will mean 2.1 million people will lose food aid. More than half a million children will lose nutritional interventions, 1.2 million people will not receive malaria bed nets, causing approximately 3,200 deaths, and HIV infections will spread as drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission are cut from 67,200 pregnant women.

Will the cuts have a bearing on private donors?

We know from past experience that when government funding is cut, it can have an impact on private donations because we aren’t able to get the initial seed money to get projects off the ground and attract investors. This initiative couldn’t have come at a more important time to make sure we don’t lose some of the major progress we’ve made in fighting childhood preventable disease. We also are seeing pressure come from other areas, like the recent proposed limits in the president’s budget to the charitable income tax deductions.

What concrete steps will you do to reach your goal?

The effort is already well underway. We have already raised $328 million through the generosity of private donors giving to areas they feel passionate about. Now we’re expanding the campaign to a wider audience, hoping to see anyone who wants to help take part, whether it’s through donations or just sharing the word via Facebook. We’re sending people to our website so they can learn more about an area they care about, whether it’s protecting children from trafficking, providing loans so families can get a hand out of poverty, or making sure kids have clean, safe drinking water.

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About the author

  • Johannamorden profile

    Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covers the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business and the law.