Sustained Focus on Helping Children in Need
Our United Internet for UNICEF foundation has been at the heart of our corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities for 15 years. In UNICEF – the United Nations Children's Fund – we have a globally recognized, experienced, and qualified partner. This organization’s professional approach allows us to help children in need more effectively.
Among other things, UNICEF supports projects that enhance educational opportunities, health, and child protection, improving children’s living conditions worldwide. In addition, it provides humanitarian aid for natural disasters and their protracted long-term consequences.
Our foundation helps raise donations and acquire sustaining sponsors by running appeals for donations on our online platforms. The high level of traffic on our GMX, WEB.DE, and 1&1 portals increases the reach and awareness of these appeals. This broad coverage makes us UNICEF’s largest German corporate partner.
The United Internet Group employs a permanent staff member to coordinate the foundation’s activities with the assistance of volunteer colleagues. This staff member works closely together with the foundation’s chair, Tessa Page, with the other members of the foundation board, and with UNICEF. The foundation’s performance is monitored via the regular reports submitted to the Management Board.
Once the foundation has decided to launch an appeal for donations to help with current crises or catastrophes, we deploy a variety of instruments to support this goal.
The single and regular donations raised via United Internet’s portals are passed on in full to UNICEF because all foundation staff are either volunteers or are not paid from the donations made to United Internet for UNICEF.
“Our foundation has been helping children in need around the world for 15 years. Once again, the generous support from our donors in our anniversary year allowed us to help a large number of girls and boys in countries such as Haiti, Afghanistan, India, and – a first – Germany, following the catastrophic flooding there. I am consistently delighted by the dedication shown to the foundation by my colleagues on the team and in particular by how they have made our appeal mailshots such an effective instrument. Their hard work reminds me of my visit to the Congo, where a headmaster thanked us warmly as we were leaving by saying ‘Something good is never lost’.”
Susanne Stocker, Senior Online Editor “United Internet for UNICEF”.
The foundation’s appeals in fiscal year 2021 resulted in further donations to UNICEF of approximately €6.44 million (2020: €4.93 million; 2019: €4.73 million). This brings the total amount raised since the foundation was set up in 2006 to over €59.14 million.
2021 was a very special year for the foundation in lots of ways. Firstly, we celebrated our 15th anniversary – an occasion for great pleasure and gratitude. Thanks to our donor community, we were able to help innumerable children in need and in crisis situations.
That having been said, though, our anniversary year also brought many challenges and crises: The world is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the catastrophic floods in Germany were a real shock and a further natural disaster in Haiti caused massive suffering. In addition to the devastating humanitarian situation in Yemen, events in Afghanistan demanded a response from us. That is why we dedicated our St. Nicholas’ Day and Christmas appeal to the acute emergency in the country, raising €384,000 to support UNICEF’s work on the ground.
The human suffering caused by the catastrophic flooding in Germany’s Ahr Valley in July was immense – this was the worst natural disaster in Germany for nearly 60 years. As a result, the foundation issued an appeal mailshot for victims in Germany for the first time in its history. Donations of more than €1.1 million were raised for the “Aktionsbündnis Katastrophenhilfe”, an alliance whose members – Caritas International, the German Red Cross, and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe – provided valuable support in the affected areas.
Ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we and our many supporters have made a major contribution to bolstering UNICEF’s work and alleviating the dramatic consequences that the pandemic has had on children and their families. For example, donations of €1.2 million went to India and of €1.0 million to Venezuela. The support provided by the foundation during the second wave of coronavirus infections in India at the start of 2021 helped boost oxygen supplies to clinics, expanded testing and screening capabilities, and also bolstered UNICEF’s nutrition, sanitary facilities, and child protection programs. In Venezuela, the foundation’s support enabled UNICEF to maintain access to schooling in remote areas in particular. In addition, the foundation helped ensure healthcare for pregnant women and young children and provide people on the ground with clean drinking water and hygiene products.
Tessa Page co-founded United Internet for UNICEF together with Ralph Dommermuth and is the foundation’s chair. The following short interview gives a glimpse of the foundation’s history, its highlights over the past 15 years, and future challenges.
Fifteen years, more than 15,000 active sustaining UNICEF members, and almost €60 million raised in donations – looking back, United Internet for UNICEF can be proud of what it has achieved. Did you think when you founded it that this partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund would be as successful as it has turned out to be?
The reason why our partnership with UNICEF has been so successful is that we have had the same goals right from the start. For us – and I mean United Internet AG here – UNICEF Germany has been a strong partner for implementing our vision of protecting children’s rights. That is why we took the decision 15 years ago to work together with UNICEF.
Let’s go back even further: How did the foundation come to be formed? Was there a particular event that triggered it off?
Ralf Dommermuth and I founded United Internet for UNICEF because we are convinced that children are the world’s future. We have a duty to understand that ensuring children have a healthy, safe environment to grow up in is a global task. We wanted to put this philosophy into practice and to bolster children’s rights around the world. By doing so, Ralf Dommermuth was also propelling United Internet AG strongly into the age of social responsibility in Germany.
Getting from the initial idea to almost €60 million must have been hard work: What challenges did the foundation have to overcome at the beginning?
Challenges are something positive – they help organizations to grow. Of course we regularly faced difficulties that we had to overcome, and had to make decisions that helped the foundation grow and continue its success. The foundation has a marvelous team that works unflaggingly to implement our vision.
From Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo down to the Philippines, South Sudan, and Nepal – the foundation has helped thousands of children in need and supported dozens of projects all around the world. What project or emergency do you remember best or moved you the most?
One thing that moves me even today is an in-depth discussion that I had with three former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The look in those children’s eyes was heart-breaking. They had experienced horrible situations and had themselves been forced to do unspeakable things. UNICEF and its partners in the country are doing an unbelievable job of giving these children their childhood back.
What are the most important tasks facing the foundation in the coming years?
We shall continue making every effort to secure long-term social improvements in the lives of needy children. These include not only education, healthcare, nutrition, and freedom from violence and abuse, but also protecting the right to a healthy climate. We take this issue extremely seriously and are addressing it in our work.
Early investments in child health, education, and development bring major benefits throughout children’s lives, and for their descendants and society as a whole. Successful countries invest in their children and protect their rights. This can clearly be seen from those countries with a strong track record in the areas of healthcare and economic measures in recent decades.
Nevertheless, many politicians in less-developed countries do not prioritize investments in children and also do not see them as the linchpin for more far-reaching social improvements. What is more, many children are going hungry or living in absolute poverty even in wealthy countries.
What are your hopes for the world’s children? What would you say are the biggest challenges facing future generations?
I think that young people today are more optimistic and stronger than ever before. Their commitment to protecting the climate – something that also applies in the Arab world and in Asia, for example – is wonderful. As is the fact that they are promoting digital skills among young people in less-developed countries and regions, up to and including establishing a global youth network for sexual and reproductive rights. They are also aware of the need for responsible consumption and production, and for respect for their fellow humans and the environment. Young people are stepping up to the plate in all the areas where previous generations have failed. I think that’s fantastic. They have the potential to change the world for the better. And we have to do everything that we can to help them.