This week on our podcast, Rich and Puff sat down with Anne-Marie, CEO and Executive director of USA for UNHCR, who brings a wealth of knowledge to the agency, with the aim to better the lives of millions of refugees. With a career spanning many large roles in international charities and organisations, Anne-Marie is very qualified to talk on the subjects of fundraising, data and of course tech for good.
The Intersection of Tech and Culture
Anne-Marie grew up with a diplomat for a father, living across various countries and cultures, so had a great understanding of the world. With this, there was also first hand experience of racism, poverty, conflict and the effects of climate change. After this upbringing, Anne-Marie knew that she wanted to do something that had real purpose in her life. Starting out by studying anthropology and art-history, Anne-Marie began working at the Australian National Gallery , now the National Gallery of Australia, whilst studying. Soon after starting, she transitioned into a fundraising role within the gallery, working closely with the Gallery on their fundraising and the Australian government on their due-diligence criteria. Whilst working at the Australian National Gallery, Anne-Marie learnt a wide range of skills that would be crucial for her work within the charity sector. Getting exposure to early digital rights and ownership models for the national collections of Australia allowed Anne-Marie to work at the intersection of culture and technology.
After moving to the United States with her family, she began working for Share our Strength, an anti-hunger organisation, which began her pivot into the humanitarian side of her career…
Anne-Marie and UNHCR
Anne-Marie was recruited from Share our Strength by UNICEFUSA as a Senior Executive to help build out the marketing and fundraising team and the overall direction. From there, she began working with the Executive Director of Unicef to help change the approach to corporate partnerships and foundations. After a successful stint at Save the Children, she was offered the opportunity to develop UNHCR’s global corporate, foundation and major gift programs and then recruited to lead the USA for UNHCR as CEO.
Anne-Marie spoke of her diverse background and her non-linear career path as a strength “if you asked me in high school what I wanted to be when I grew up… honestly, I’m still trying to figure that out but I think opportunities just come at you.”
Challenges in Fundraising
One of Anne-Marie’s major skills is around resource mobilisation , something that she has had plenty of exposure to across all of her roles. Fundraising for charitable causes can be a minefield of ethical issues, decision making and hierarchical pressure. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. Anne-Marie told us of the difficulties in partnering with some companies and the organisational reluctance that she has faced when working in fundraising for embracing some corporate donations. Anne-Marie’s view on working with these more controversial corporations is that often it’s best to find opportunities to work together with these companies in ways that benefit the cause. It might be a dialogue to educate a company on your cause or employee engagement. There are many options rather than refusing to work with them based on a strict set of criteria, as this limits creative opportunities for engagement with your cause.
Data Centric Thinking
Data has become a crucial part of looking at how to fundraise and raise awareness effectively and appeal to people in a more effective way. By using data, we can use what resonates with donors and supporters to create more impactful fundraising and advocacy campaigns. For example, social media content featuring compassion and family values aimed towards those with conservative Christian values, was highly effective in encouraging supporters and donors when compared with content focused on how donations support unaccompanied minors who have crossed into the US. By being specific messaging and platforms that resonate with specific audiences we are able to get the right message to the right user. Using data, fundraisers can raise more and spend less on their campaigns and create relevant and meaningful relationships with audiences.
Data is also hugely important to refugees, often those forced to flee their homes or countries need to be able to access a wide range of personal data and records. Imagine losing the documentation that says how you are, where you are educated or your financial credit history and property records. Working with refugees, UNHCR is working to establish a safe, secure data identity that can be accessed by refugees globally.
Other Awesome Examples of Tech for Good
Anne-Marie shared an awesome example of tech for good that she has been using. Vodafone’s DreamLab is an app that harnesses the processing power of your mobile device whilst you sleep, to help process data for use in researching life-changing illnesses such as cancer. Just one PC running 24 hours a day would need 300 years to process the data required to complete the project. However, 100,000 smartphones running DreamLab for six hours a night could fast track the job in just three months.
By leaning on simple ways to engage the user, this allows users to do good with minor barriers to entry. Examples like this are key to generating engagement, especially within the for good field.
Listen now for the full discussion
To hear more of our conversation with Anne-Marie, listen now using the links below!
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