United Nations Foundation

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United Nations Foundation
Logo United Nations Foundation.png
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., United States
Ted Turner
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$139,463,058[1]

The United Nations Foundation is an American charitable organization that supports the United Nations and its activities. It was established in 1998 with a $1 billion gift by philanthropist Ted Turner, who believed the UN was crucial for addressing the world's problems.[2] The Foundation addresses are child health, climate change and energy, sustainable development, technology, women, girls, and population, and mobilizing support of the United Nations.[3] Among the major global campaigns it has partnered with are Nothing But Nets, the Measles & Rubella Initiative, the Clean Cooking Alliance, Girl Up, Shot@Life, and the Digital Impact Alliance.

United Nations Foundation's original purpose was to build support for United Nations causes and to make sure that the United States honors its commitments to the United Nations. Since its beginning, the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Campaign have provided grants in order to support the UN goals worldwide. The United Nations Foundation serves as the largest source of private funding to the United Nations.[4] In conjunction with the UN, they established the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships to serve as the UN counterpart to the Foundation.[5]

The United Nations Foundation has collected more than $1.2 billion from other sources, including from other foundations, corporations, NGOs, and individuals. The Foundation also works with UN partners in order to provide policy recommendations and project proposals. Along with its sister organization, the Better World Campaign, have helped raise awareness of and support for the UN among global policy makers and the public.[4] The UN Foundation's current budgetary breakdown is $115.7 million going to program services, $7.3 million to fundraising, and $11.8 million going to management and overhead.[6]

Turner's choice of the UN for his donation[edit]

Ted Turner, who in 1996 was worth $3.2 billion due to his shares in Time Warner (who had bought Turner Broadcasting System that year), decided to make a $1 billion contribution to the UN because he had previously donated to similar causes, and felt strongly about the issues the UN were participating in. Before donating to the UN, Turner was a proponent for the protection of the environment, especially in combating global warming. Turner believed that his $100 million per year donation over the course of 10 years would make a difference in the direction of the United Nations, and that he could use this donation to encourage other wealthy members of society to make financial contributions to the work of the UN.[7] By giving away nearly a third of his wealth while still living, Ted Turner was a major influence in the Giving Pledge movement.[citation needed][clarification needed]


Muhammad Yunus, a member of the UN Foundation's board of directors

The UN Foundation is led by President and chief executive officer Kathy Calvin. She previously served as the President of AOL Time Warner prior to becoming the CEO of the UN Foundation.[8] Timothy E. Wirth, a former United States Congressman, U.S. Senator, and the first Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs in U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration, previously served as the Foundation's President from 1998 to 2013.[3] Ted Turner serves as the chairman of the board. Aaron Sherinian is the current chief communications officer and spokesman of the UN Foundation.[9] Other notable board members include Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, Founder and Chairman Emeritus Infosys N. R. Narayana Murthy, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former US Ambassador to the UN and Mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Muhammad Yunus among others.[10]

Background of Foundation's involvement with the UN[edit]

When the UN Foundation started, it desired to assist the UN with a wide variety of issues, and bring attention to particular modern problems. The Foundation wished to help then Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the problem of reforming the UN. They also desired to bolster UN programs that were viewed as successful, including children's health, population control, environment issues, and land-mines. One of their priorities was also to work with the private sector to raise more money for the UN. They also had the intention of raising awareness of the UN and its programs amongst the American population. They have had a close relationship with the UN and its leadership from the beginning in order to set goals and provide funding for particular programs.[11]

Specific campaigns[edit]

Global Health[edit]

One of the global issues that the UN Foundation focuses on is women and children's health. They work closely with private sector partners and UN agencies in order to address a variety of children's health issues. One of their biggest campaigns is working to reduce the number of deaths from measles. The Measles & Rubella Initiative, as it called, is a partnership between the UN Foundation, the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization in order to provide measles vaccinations to children across the African continent. During the first year of this campaign, vaccines were distributed across 8 African countries, which vaccinated over 21 million children. This campaign not only focuses on vaccinating children, but also putting into place health infrastructure, and promoting better access to health-care across the continent.[12] In ten years, the initiative has protected more than 1 billion children from measles.

The UN Foundation also runs the Nothing But Nets Campaign, which is targeted at reducing malaria across the African continent. This campaign originally started when Sports Illustrated writer Patrick Reilley published an article asking his readers to donate money to a campaign to buy mosquito nets for those in Africa suffering from malaria. With support from the UN Foundation, Reilley's project got off the ground, and has to-date provided over 7 million nets across Africa.[13]

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a partnership that includes the UN Foundation, Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. The initiative is dedicated to globally eradicating polio through vaccinations and has protected 2 billion children from polio.

The mHealth Alliance was founded by the UN Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation in 2009[14] to facilitate global innovation and ensure maximum impact in the field of mobile health (mHealth). The Alliance acts as an umbrella organization to complement, draw together and expand upon the mHealth initiatives of multiple organizations around the world to address global health needs. Since 2006, the UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership has been working with the World Health Organization, DataDyne.org and country Ministries of Health to support the development of a sustainable and scalable technology solution[buzzword] to quickly collect vital health data.

The UN Foundation's Shot@Life campaign educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. The campaign encourages Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate vaccines to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths.

Every Woman Every Child was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in 2010 and aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children 2015. It is a global effort to mobilize and intensify international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address major health challenges facing women and children around the world.

Energy and Climate[edit]

One of the largest global issues that the UN Foundation is involved in is climate change and energy. The UN Foundation priorities include tackling the global climate challenge, improving energy efficiency and achieving universal energy access. The Foundation's Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Program works with partners in the NGO sector, the UN, governments, and private corporations to come up with solutions and provide funding to programs related to this issue. One of their campaigns in relation to climate change and energy is to provide communities around the world with renewable energy technologies in order to promote sustainability globally.[15]

The Sustainable Energy for All Initiative calls for private sector and national commitments and attracts global attention to the importance of energy for development and poverty alleviation. The initiative has been called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and, as part of the initiative, the UN Foundation has launched a global Energy Access Practitioner Network. The Network aims to bring together practitioners from the private sector and civil society working on the delivery of energy services and solutions related to electrification in a range of developing country contexts to develop a more integrated approach to energy access planning and execution.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is an initiative led by the UN Foundation and supports large-scale adoption of clean and safe household cooking solutions as a way to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and reduce climate change missions. The alliance works with public, private, and non-profit partners to overcome market barriers that hamper the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves and fuels in the developing world. It works to develop standards for cleaner stoves, increase public and policymaker awareness of the health and environmental benefits of improved stoves.

The UN Foundation's International Bioenergy and Sustainability Initiative advances environmentally and economically sustainable strategies for harnessing biomass energy in ways that minimize competition with food products. The initiatives seeks to identify, share and promote best practices for the sustainable use of bioenergy with government leaders, UN agencies, scientific experts, and nongovernmental organizations.

Girls, Women & Population[edit]

The UN Foundation launched the campaign Girl Up in September 2010. This "for girls, by girls" campaign channels the energy and enthusiasm of American girls into a powerful force for change for girls globally. Through Girl Up's support, girls in developing countries have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted, and positioned to be the next generation of leaders. High school girls are usually the ones to start a branch of the nonprofit organization of Girl Up. Once the clubs at a high school level are created, girls of that high school plan events to raise money and awareness for the importance of women's education. Recently, in the summer of 2015 a book guide for campus level clubs of Girl Up was created so that more money can be raised. Once the money is raised it is sent to the United Nations, who then send it out to the girls in countries that they support; including Guatemala, Malawi, Ethiopia, Liberia and Rajasthan, India.[16]

The Universal Access Project works to achieve universal access to reproductive health care leading to healthier women, stronger families, and more stable, prosperous communities. Its goal is to increase and maintain the U.S. involvement and support for global family planning by protecting key investments. The UN Foundation is committed to achieving universal access to reproductive health care by 2015 which is also a Millennium Development Goal target.[17]

UN advocacy in the U.S.[edit]

The UN Foundation has an extremely close relationship with the UN, as it provides it with large amounts of money to fund programs. The UN Foundation, through its sponsorship and funding of the Better World Campaign, works to better the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. The Better World Campaign advocates at Congress in order to ensure that the US fulfills its financial obligations to the United Nations, and that it repays its debt. The Better World Campaign allows the Foundation to have a direct channel to the US legislative and administrative powers.[18] The UN Foundation also works with the UN to develop new websites, create the UN Radio Service, engage online media outlets and share the UN's point of view through blogs to highlight UN peacekeeping, UN reform, climate change, HIV/AIDS and women's empowerment.

Global Entrepreneurs Council[edit]

In 2011, the United Nations Foundation established the Global Entrepreneurs Council, to consist of up to 10 entrepreneurs under the age of 45, who work with the UN to address global issues. Members have been primarily business leaders, but philanthropists and government officials have also served.[19]


  1. ^ a b "United Nations Foundation, Inc" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  2. ^ Adam Cohen and Aixa M. Pascual (29 September 1997). "Ted Turner: Putting His Money..." Time. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  3. ^ a b Dyan Machan (1 June 1998), Tim Wirth's Shopping List, Forbes Magazine v.161
  4. ^ a b Ted Turner and Timothy Wirth (2001). "A Key Partner for Innovative Alliances – The United Nations Foundation". UN Chronicle no.4. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ UNFIP: Partnerships Beyond Borders, UN Chronicle v.41, 2005
  6. ^ "Our Financials". United Nations Foundation. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  7. ^ Howard Fineman and Carol Bogert (29 September 1997), Why Ted gave it away, Newsweek v.130
  8. ^ Dunn, Emily Dunn (24 January 2015). "Women in Business Q&A: Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation". HuffPost. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  9. ^ "New speakers confirmed for next week and SocialGood UK". Mashable. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  10. ^ "United Nations Foundation: Our Board". United Nations Foundation. 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.[non-primary source needed]
  11. ^ Spending Ted's money, Newsweek v.130, 1 December 1997
  12. ^ Phyllis A. Cuttino (June–August 2002), Where a child dies each minute, UN Chronicle v.39.2
  13. ^ Patrick Reilley (25 April 2011). "Nothing But Nets: A Global Movement to Fight Malaria". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  14. ^ "How did mHealthAlliance.org begin?". Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  15. ^ "UNEP DTIE Energy Branch: Activities". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  16. ^ "Girl Up | Uniting Girls to Change the World | United Nations Foundation". Girl Up. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  17. ^ "What We Do | Universal Access Project". www.universalaccessproject.org. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  18. ^ Phyllis Cuttino (December 2002 – February 2002), The Better World Campaign, UN Chronicle v.38.4
  19. ^ "2011/12 Global Entrepreneurs Council". United Nations Foundation. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2019.[non-primary source needed]

External links[edit]