Copyright Unicef/Romenzi: Long term partnerships, like Unicef and Starwood, can have a greater impact for children around the world
The ways that charities and businesses work together are changing. The notion of corporates supporting a cause with the sole objective of good publicity is slowly diminishing. Gone too, are the days of non-profits working with companies purely as a means to an end to generate funds.
Instead more and more NGOs and businesses are increasingly working together to form long lasting partnerships that have the power to create genuine and sustainable change.
2015 marks the 20 year anniversary of Unicef and Starwood working together to help change the lives of children around the world. The Check Out for Children partnership gives guests in Starwood hotels the opportunity to add £1, $1 or €1 to their bill. During this same time period, Starwood has directly donated to Unicef through associate fundraising activities, matching funds, emergency relief donations, and philanthropic grants.
Two decades later we have raised almost $35 million, which has helped support over 4.5 million children. This ground breaking partnership has helped Unicef immunise children against killer diseases, provide clean water for communities, distribute life-saving mosquito nets, establish schools, provide counselling for vulnerable children and much more. This year Starwood associates aim to raise the highest target set to date, $1 million in aid of Unicef programmes.
At Unicef UK we know that working in collaboration with our corporate partners allows us to have a much greater impact than we would alone. By combining businesses' skills, networks and funding with Unicef's access to governments, local knowledge and programme expertise, we can help improve the lives of children, their families and communities.
Unicef works with companies that are committed to helping change children's lives. As well as funding our work to help vulnerable children around the world, we want the businesses who support us to commit to respect and support children's rights through their Corporate Social Responsibility strategies.
Knowing that we have a reliable source of income for particular programmes means our teams can plan ahead much more effectively and ensure that we have what we need to reach the most vulnerable children.
These long-term partnerships give us the opportunity to set big, strategic goals that may take time to achieve, but we know there will be a committed partner working with us throughout. It also means we can work together to become better at what we do; looking to maximise our fundraising efficiency year on year, take supporters on a longer, more meaningful journey and essentially develop a trust which means our partnerships are flexible and high performing.
Long term partnerships also mean that when an emergency strikes and urgency is of the essence, we can call on our corporate supporters to help straight away. For instance when the Philippines earthquake struck and turned children's lives upside down, the Starwood Foundation was able to support quickly with a life-saving donation.
When charities and businesses work well together, we can have an incredible impact. As children around the world continue to face dangers of conflict, disaster and disease, long-lasting and sustainable partnerships will be critical to saving lives and building better futures. Together we can help keep more children safe.
To celebrate 20 years of partnership, Unicef and Starwood are holding a unique photography exhibition, which explores the impact of Check Out for Children through the eyes of Unicef's Ambassadors and supporters. The exhibition is at Le Meridien Hotel in London from 14 - 29 November and is free entry for the public.
Photographs of Robbie Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Roger Moore, Sir Chris Hoy, Michael Sheen, Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGregor, Eddie Izzard, Jessie Ware and Emma Bunton, all of whom have supported Unicef's work for children around the world, will be featured.