United Nations Foundation CEO: Telling the UN's story to a global audience

Kathy Calvin, president and CEO, United Nations Foundation details how the organization leverages its skills to support the work of the UN.

Kathy Calvin, president and CEO, United Nations Foundation
Kathy Calvin, president and CEO, United Nations Foundation

How do you support the UN?
We have used our communications to empower more champions and advocates. The foundation was formed to support the UN at a time when everybody thought the way to do so was by making grants.

Over time, we recognized that is key, but what is more important is helping the UN tell its story, reach new audiences, and get constituencies to care about issues across the globe.

Our real value has been our ability to build campaigns around big issues and ideas. These include girls’ empowerment, the lifesaving nature of vaccines, or finding new constituencies, such as the Boy Scouts of America or NBA players, and enabling them to become empowered champions and communicators.

How will the foundation help the UN communicate its Millennium Development Goals, such as cutting extreme poverty?
The goals were adopted by world leaders in 2000 and never got a proper launch. It took about five years for people to say, "Wow, these are powerful."

We want to make sure that this time around they are given a great launch, so everyone has a chance to learn about them and figure out how their work can apply, how they can help, and how they can hold governments accountable.

World leaders are expected to adopt a long-term agenda at a special summit on sustainable development in New York in September 2015.

We are working with other colleagues, from Save the Children to the AIDS Foundation, to reach as many people as we can. The foundation will also help craft digital messages, which will encourage people to take action themselves.

Can you give us an update on another UN Foundation initiative, #GivingTuesday?
In 2014, #GivingTuesday garnered 754,000 tweets – a 180% uptick from 2013. There were also more than 39,000 #UNselfie tweets.

In 2012, 2,500 nonprofits participated in #GivingTuesday, helping raise $13.5 million and generating 2.5 million Twitter impressions. In 2014, more than 15,000 nonprofits participated and $45.7 million was raised.

The next stage is about making it a movement, not just a day. We want to start a new engagement and approach where it is about time and talent, so people can give back in lots of other ways.

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