Tag Archives: UNICEF

Smurfs Up! Tiny Blue Belgians Change The World

For those who hadn’t noticed, my inner-child is quite near the surface. I try desperately to be sensible, responsible and adult like, but the reality is I am proud to add a touch of levity when the setting allows. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the big problems that surround us all locally and as a global community.

So, today, I give you The Smurfs!

Now my inner-child is sated I should reveal the wonderful reason this should be shared far and wide, and not just to children (or bigger kids with jobs).

It is easy to criticise the UN for being abstract and a big part of the problem created by a global community of environmental and social institutions that have for years been preaching for us all to save the world. The response has largely been erm, nope. Not my circus, nor my blue Belgian kids characters.

There is a subtle yet hugely significant change happening. Those who are privy to the gloomy data, science and politics are actually collaborating ever more effectively with people who can translate these urgent messages into the range of tools, voices and formats needed to engage the real army. You. Your children. Your friends. Your cousins. Your cousin’s cousins. Everybody who doesn’t get the immediacy. In short, everybody.

Team Smurfs will rally behind the 17 Goals through to the International Day of Happiness on 20 March 2017. Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village will attend a celebration at United Nations headquarters in New York on Saturday, March 18 to honour youth who have already taken action to achieve the Goals in their own communities.


“We know that children and young people are some of the world’s most passionate advocates on issues that matter to them the most. We must continue to find new ways to empower them to help achieve a world free from inequality and injustice for every child. This campaign will give children and young people the platform they need to have their voices heard,” said UNICEF Director of Communications Paloma Escudero.

“The campaign message focuses on the notion that every one of us can make a difference, regardless of our size,” said Veronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs in 1958. “It’s an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF.”

“All of us, even a small Smurf, can achieve big goals!” added Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the upcoming animated film.

Can a kids cartoon change the world? Damn right it can!

Watch it. Talk about it in work. Talk about at home too, and share it like crazy.


#SmallSmurfsBigGoals and #TeamSmurfs


Haiti – Do Something

In today’s society we are at times over-exposed to extreme images and events through the media, now difficult to avoid, every day depicting neglect, violence, greed, disaster and impending doom. Too many people have become desensitized by this saturation of global plight and quickly insulate themselves with a shot of inane reality television to wash away any pangs of responsibility.

Let’s not forget the nightmare images we are seeing on television or through the internet are very real, not a tv drama and if anything are only a censored indication of the thousands of horrific stories evolving daily. Although distant in miles we should be united through our humanity.

Many of us in the blogosphere are fortunate to live in comfortable and secure circumstances. It is all too easy to take laptops, mobile phones and our other luxuries for granted, never mind clean water, medical attention, our families and our homes. Take one minute, close your eyes and imagine your home in ruins, your family missing and precious little practical help offering any respite at all.

Now do something about it.

There are many agencies already on the ground that need your help immediately. In reality all most of us can do is make a financial donation to a reputable cause, to begin to alleviate the suffering that the surviving people of Haiti are being forced to endure.

Many businesses are taking the initiative by offering direct financial support, products in-kind and making it easier for individuals to provide their assistance. If you own, manage or work for a business that wants to help (some may nned a nudge, don’t be scared, ask the boss, he can only say no, then ask him again, and again…), visit the UN Emergency Response for Business website for advice on the most effective way to offer your support. The Huffington Post has this great list of some of the bigger corporate responses so far if you need inspiration. Here’s the story from the Financial Times on the ‘Rush of corporate aid to Haiti’.

If you’re an individual, every donation helps, no matter how small, but please ensure you are choosing a reputable agency, as unfortunately there will be those out there looking to take advantage of the highly emotionally vulnerable. Stick with an organisation you know. Here’s a short list of good causes and what they do, that I’d vouch for to make sure your donation gets to where it’s needed most:

  • UNICEF  –  is deploying clean water and sanitation supplies, therapeutic foods, medical supplies and temporary shelter to Jacmel and Port-au-Prince. UNICEF will also be focusing on children who have become separated from their families to protect them from harm or exploitation.
  • CARE – plans to start food distributions using stocks of high-protein biscuits from CARE warehouses in Haiti. CARE has 133 staff who are on the ground coordinating with U.N. agencies and other aid organizations to gather more detailed information about the damage and will rapidly scale up response based on those assessments.
  • YELE HAITI – a grassroots movement that builds global awareness for Haiti while helping to transform the country through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment, supported by Timberland and Wyclef Jean.
  • DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS – provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. DWB/MSF reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols
  • SAVE THE CHILDREN – providing vulnerable children with health, education, protection and food security programs.

It doesn’t really matter which agency you choose, but it does matter that you don’t pretend that real people in Haiti aren’t just another TV show.

Beyond Sport Summit – Desmond Tutu Impersonates Bono

Highlights of the Beyond Sport Summit, London, July 9th 2009.

tutu_flagIt’s been well over 3 years since I left Everton Football Club and the England Amputee Squad to set up Coethica and sport has been something of an absent friend. The worlds of professional sport and embedded CSR have never truly been properly introduced. There are pockets of excellent community engagement but much room for improvement.

On the top floor of City Hall in London during a beautiful summer’s evening I stood surrounded by the great and the good of sport, government, business and charity. I was at the Beyond Sport London Legacy Awards as part of a inaugural Beyond Sport Summit. The highlight of the evening, apart from Ebony Horse Club winning the £60,000 prize was the vision that was the handshake between the eccentric Mayor of London Boris Johnson, a slightly hunched figure with bright blond hair dried in a wind tunnel and Dikembe Mutombo, an ex-professional basketball player standing at least 7ft 6in wearing shoes that were a length a clown would envy.

The next day was my focus but the third in a programme of events aimed at highlighting the role that sport does and could play in society. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I’d never heard of the Summit until I was directed to the website and found myself hopefully impressed with the format, the partners and especially the speakers. With brands such as TIME, Virgin, Barclays and UNICEF paired with personalities like ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, Desmond Tutu, Lord Puttnam CBE, Ian Thorpe, Michael Johnson, Kofi Annan and Richard Branson as only highlights, I had to find out more!

The main conference day was introduced by Beyond Sport supremo Nick Keller and compared by the wonderfully passionate Kevin Carroll. The day began well with Tony Blair coming over confidently and nailing the theme for the day with “Sport has the capacity to transcend your own personal environment” which was a much welcome breath of fresh air over the old ‘power of sport’ cliché, even if it is true.

I love the film Chariots of Fire, and its Director and ex-President of UNICEF UK, Lord Puttnam, offered jaw dropping statistics from a global perspective such as  “93% worlds problems are caused by men” defining the need for the education of women & girls through sport and making half the room feel guilty. I was eagerly anticipating his opinion of the relationship of Barcelona Football Club and UNICEF, with their at the time unique shirt sponsorship agreement. Lord Puttnam found it hard to hide a wry smile when stating that in many ways it was “The greatest investment Barca ever made” and even more so when gloating “the Barcelona players were proud to wear UNICEF on their shirts. Were the players at Manchester United as happy with AIG on theirs?” I wonder if we’ll ever find out how much indirect additional revenue was generated by such a relationship for both parties? Not so much “show me the money” but more of “show me the way to the money” (with a nice added twist of morals).

Having broken 22 world records, Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe obviously knows how to get through water, quickly. Although the success in the pool was stunningly impressive, I was even more astonished to learn that he set up his own charity at the meagre age of eighteen called Fountain of Youth. His passion and eloquence shone brighter than any gold medal as he set off like a ‘Thorpedo’ on a 15 minute mission to educate the audience about the plight of Aboriginal life expectancy against a backdrop of Australian politics.

Throughout the proceedings, and it was refreshing to have them spread out in bitesize chunks, there were many commendable projects receiving gongs. Amongst the list was the ‘Best CSR in Sport’ Award going to Deloitte’s for their Disability Sport Programme, which didn’t exactly impress from the information provided, but then it’s an area I know a little about and I’m not easily impressed without thorough evidence. For a full list of winners and nominees please take the time to visit the Beyond Sport website for inspiration.

Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong brought a more sombre moment to the event with a very personal account of the  ‘3 scariest words you can hear – you have cancer.’  A brief word from the man himself, back in the saddle to raise the profile of cancer awareness once more, was relayed via recorded video as he was a little busy with a race or something in France.

After an embarrassingly botched introduction that almost had Lewis Pugh introducing Lewis Pugh (including stern command vocally projected toward those in charge of the media), The Human Polar Bear gave us a fantastic story of his record 1km swim (in just Speedos!) at the North Pole. If you think you could do that I’d like to give you a few example temperatures; your local indoor swimming pool is about 27 degrees, the English Channel is about 18, the water around the sinking Titanic was 5 and the North Pole is minus 1.7! ‘That’s fucking freezing!’ the environmental campaigner announced to wake up the crowd after lunch.

The man with the most infectious chuckle in the world, oh, and also one of modern day’s most prominent spiritual leaders Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, obviously enjoyed his interview by Sir Michael Parkinson. The rapport was wonderful and the discussion covered both rugby’s and cricket’s part in apartheid ‘biting the dust’. In 1995 the South African won the rugby because they had an extra player (God) with ‘90% of the crowd cheering Nelson Mandela. The same people used to call him a terrorist.’ Considering this man played such a crucial role in overcoming one of humanity’s most darkest regimes his almost childlike (especially for a man of a very respectful age) sense of fun was captivating, even for a religious sceptic such as myself. ‘I think I look like Bono’ he quipped about the stage mic along his cheek.

Many well known names played their part appearing like cameos in movies including Michael Johnson, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, HRH Prince Al Hussein of Jordan, Lucas Radebe, Rt Hon Tessa Jowel MP, Dame Kelly Holmes, Richard Branson (absent), and Kofi Annan (picking up the Humanitarian Award via video). Overall it was a fantastic inaugural event. It definitely would have benefited from more emphasis on environmental considerations, especially with Copenhagen around the corner. I for one can’t wait to find out where the next host city will be for such an entertaining and intellectually challenging summit. Well done Nick and all at Beyond Sport!


Beyond Sport Update

Want to change the world?

Today saw the launch of the new Beyond Sport World network – to join the party go to www.beyondsportworld.org


CSR for Smaller Businesses – Community Engagement

Here is Part 5 of the CSR for Small Business series and this post is looking at the benefits of engaging with the wider community outside the workplacepartnership.

But what has community go to do with business? The answer is your communities are your business.

Before we get into the practical advice for making more money we need to clarify what we mean by ‘community’. A dictionary will tell you that a community is a social group with a joint cause, in this context we will briefly look at a few different groups sometimes also called stakeholders (or to coin a phrase “anybody that can bugger up your business”) by corporates or consultants wanting to sound expensive.

In particular we’re going to concentrate on those groups outside of current customers, suppliers and employees. These groups are usually primary considerations and therefore usually well managed. It’s the secondary groups we encounter and only react to where we can improve our effectiveness.


Ok, now for some quick wins:


 1. Whose time and money?

I’ve not come across many businesses that don’t support a charity or good cause, especially at smaller organisations as they tend to be more accessible to local communities.

If you own or manage a small business and already help out good causes, do you know why? Are you doing it for the company’s benefit or because it’s important to you? Understanding the difference between an owner/manager’s personal values and those of the business (if recognised what they are) often get confused. It’s important to clarify what you support because you want to and what you support that can help your business. If anything is done on business time or with the company’s resources it should directly benefit the business. I’ve worked with organisations where the directors were clocking up impressive hours supporting good causes and calling it networking with very little benefit actually being delivered as a result. It’s easy to get sucked into the incredibly morally rewarding world of charities but your business can suffer. If your business is successful you’ll be able to give more but the business has to come first.


2. Formal charitable policydonation

By taking a little time to step back and think logically you should be able to increase the value of your offer to good causes whilst also improving your business. If you see tangible business benefits coming from working with good causes you are more likely to get more involved with them again in the future. The not-so-secret is to look at these types of relationships as longer term win-win scenarios and understand what the partner cause really needs and build a mutually beneficial partnership.

Many businesses react to charitable requests for time, cash or products as they come in and without proper management. Which causes are supported? Who chooses them? How much is spent?  Ad hoc management of any of resource inevitably leads to inefficiencies. Emotive issues usually generate emotive responses which can easily distract people especially with no organisational policy guidance.

By creating a clear set of principles for your company’s relationships with external charitable and community organisations you make it easier for everybody to maximise the use of their time.

Here are a few considerations when creating a formal charitable policy:

  • Define a budget (time, product amounts and /or financial) and evaluate performance annually.
  • Shop around. Like any supplier relationship try a few different potential partners. Select a cause that has energy and professionalism. Don’t just pick a partner because they are big or well known. The better causes understand that it is about giving as well as receiving and should be able to offer benefits such as access to their media resources, contact lists / referrals, volunteering opportunities or training for your employees.
  • Aim to build lasting relationships and don’t expect fantastic returns overnight. Put the effort in to understand your partner’s needs and offer your own suggestions. Sometimes people are afraid to ask or don’t know what they need. It should be a two-way relationship.
  • Select a cause that you can exploit your own strengths for, i.e. by offering your particular expertise, product, employees during quiet periods or access to extended networks.
  • Do you want to work with just one partner and focus or would you benefit more from a combination of local, regional, national, international and different topics (environmental, human rights, sport, children, disability, medical research etc)?
  • If your business aspires to grow geographically, regionally, nationally or internationally, can you find a partner that reflects your target boundaries. Barcelona Football Club has UNICEF across their shirts because the charity is a global brand!
  • Can you commit to an extended time period with your policy, say 1, 2 or 3 years? Oppositely, sometimes a change of partner can energise both sides of the relationship.
  • Could you encourage employees to engage in local charities or schools in their own time to help further their local understanding issues and enhance complimentary skills?
  • Be innovative. Get away from boring cheque handover photos, please! How about writing a cheque on the side of a cow, finding a new way to use Facebook or Twitter, turn your car park into a beach for a day, anything, but be creative?!
  • Aim for excellence. Treat your charitable relationships in the same way you would with a supplier or customer.


3. Payroll Giving

Providing a facility for employees to automatically make a donation to charities of their choice is a great quick win for all employers. You can be seen to be encouraging charitable support at very low cost and with minimal effort. There are specific payroll giving organisations that can manage this process in combination with your normal payroll process at extremely affordable rates. Not every employee will take you up on this offer but they will appreciate your consideration. There may be also financial incentives for both employee and employer dependent on your location.


4. Volunteering

I would advise serious consideration of encouraging all employees to participate in volunteering events for both their own favourite charity and also a more formal session with colleagues as part of the company. Just half a day for their own charity and half a day for a team event will create fantastic opportunities for morale building, group skills, gaining perspective and lead to improved personal performances. Volunteering can improve productivity, recruitment and retention by stimulating passions and providing a platform to learn and interact in a fresh environment away from the routine of work, in addition to supporting a needy project.


5. Schools and Higher Education

Youth is the future of tomorrow and also a great audience to get your business in front of, as long as it can be done sensitively. You should be aware of all the local educational establishments in your area. Consider ‘adopting’ a local school and look for partnership initiatives such as providing work based learning, encouraging employees to become governors, offering practical workshops about your industry. Giving a talk at an assembly at a local school is promoting your business to not only the children and teachers present but also the families back home. Don’t just think about promoting your products, think also about schools as pools of talent and creating your own educational programmes to tap into potential talent early.


6. Out of sight, out of mind – into work, into saleshomeless

There are many within all of our communities that are forgotten, hidden or ignored. Homeless people, ex-offenders, ethnic minority groups, disabled people, are just a few of those that society has marginalised for one reason or another. Stereotyping has further excluded many from our thoughts and to everybody’s detriment. These groups contain millions of people all with skills and disposable income that you can access with the right approach.

Not every homeless person sells the Big Issue, is an alcoholic or drug user, it can be just be somebody without what we would call a home or address. UK retailer Marks & Spencer has a great track record of taking homeless people on board with many offered full-time employment. Disabled people make up approximately 10% of the population of the UK; they all have money to spend and skills to offer. Is your product or site accessible to all? Don’t make it hard for people to spend money! Ex-offenders or ex-services are often stereotyped and can also provide a great source of employees.

Yes there are barriers to overcome such as perception, awareness and prejudice but for balance there are always rewards available for those with the vision to venture into less chartered waters. For each of these social groups there are numerous agencies desperate for private sector support that are able to help you with any.

I can speak with personal experience of working with all of the above social groups with only positive, and many inspirational stories after overcoming the popular misconceptions and ignorance that we all have. Be brave, take one step and explore all the opportunities for new recruits, new sales and fantastic reputation.


7. Buy from us and be a good person

Why not encourage customers to buy our product by offering a donation to a partner cause? Cause Related Marketing is a great way to improve sales by tapping into new customers because of an association with an appropriate good cause. Plant a tree, buy a water well in a developing country, vaccines for children in poverty, books / sport equipment / computers for schools, you’ve probably heard of at least one of those, why not try it for your business? The cost of the additional promise should be more than covered by the increased sales, not to mention the reputational benefit.


Have you got any examples of successful community engagement initiatives?

Update – Passion, Sport and Corporate Social Responsibility


The London 2012 Olympics Organising Committee today published its Sustainable Sourcing Code.

“Potential products will be assessed based on where they come from, who made them, what they’re made of, what they are wrapped in and what will happen to them after the Games.

The code was developed over a period of 18 months in consultation with leading retailers and brands in the sustainable procurement field, sponsors, industry experts and the third sector, including the Trades Union Congress, Playfair Alliance, the Ethical Trading Initiative, WWF, Fairtrade Foundation and UNICEF. It will be reviewed and updated as necessary over time.”

The question is why is there such a massive gulf between the approach of this singular event and just about every sporting governing body or club there is?

Now they don’t even have to be innovative. Here’s the wheel, now go an not re-invent it!