By Rebecca Orlowitz, Wealth Management Associate

When someone looks at their wealth, they see multiple components. It includes their investments, savings, and their giving. This last piece – the giving – is what led me to impact investing.

I actually wasn’t aware that investing and innovative philanthropy could do so much good until I joined the Next Generation. Since 2010, I have been on the junior board of UNICEF USA called, “Next Generation.” We fundraise for different projects using our networks to increase our reach and our impact. To date we have raised nearly $6 million for 12 different projects.

UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund. It is supported entirely by the voluntary contributions of governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, corporations and private individuals. UNICEF receives no funding from the assessed dues of the United Nations. UNICEF operates in 197 countries and is already “in-country” before emergency or disaster strikes. UNICEF is invited in by local governments and works hand in hand with them.

UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. 90.2% of every $1 donated goes directly to children, and it has the highest rating by Charity Navigator. UNICEF is very lean in terms of overhead and its staff from Caryl Stern, CEO, on down is committed and talented.

Here are some key Impact Initiatives that make UNICEF so effective:

UNICEF advocates for the protection and development of the world’s children. Through petitions and letters, we encouraged President Obama to sign the Girls Count Act into law in 2015. This legislation directs support to birth certificate registration, to help ensure that girls especially can be full participants in society.

US and Global Focus
UNICEF created a Fitbit like device called, the “Kid Power Band.” UNICEF Kid Power gives school children in the US the power to unlock funding to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids give, the more points they earn, the more lives they save. And they learn about creating impact early on.

Inspired Marketplace
UNICEF has an online market offering thousands of handmade items produced by artisans from around the globe. The proceeds benefit UNICEF programs and support local entrepreneurs. NextGen curates a section, so you can see what we think is cool! You can also shop for inspired gifts such as desks, tents, blanks, and vaccines (just to name a few), which go to children in need.

Climate Change
UNICEF has taken the strong position that “climate change both feeds on and accentuates inequality and children are disproportionately vulnerable to these impacts.” UNICEF is incorporating climate resilience into interventions and program areas as well as data collection, technical assistance to governments, and policy advocacy. UNICEF is stepping up its efforts to systematically green the organization, including reporting and investing in renewable energy and resource efficient facilities and operations. “Unless we act now: The impact of climate change on children.” Read more here.

UNICEF Tap is our water project. Together with our partners, we created a website that monitors the motion of your cell phone and for every five minutes you don’t touch your phone, our donors will fund one full day supply of drinking water for a child. This is a great way to keep everyone’s attention during meetings. 

Innovation Labs
UNICEF’s collaborative incubation accelerators bring businesses, universities, governments and civil society together to create sustainable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing children and youth. Some of the projects include:

– Mobil Health systems including real time test results, tracking patients through SMS to ensure they receive help.

– DigiSchool is a solar powered school in a suitcase which provides access to quality learning content 24/7.

– UNICEF just launched an innovation fund, its very own impact investment vehicle! Investments will be in the form of small grants first, followed by venture capital (VC) like equity investments.

Small Ripples of Change
During my 6 years working with UNICEF I have been part of a global organization transforming to create greater impact for children. I have seen impact philanthropy beginning to spawn impact investing. I have learned personally that integrating my investing, giving and work in the world causes small ripples of change. I look forward to continuing this journey.