United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Anne-Marie Grey
Chief of Section, Leadership Giving Private Sector Fundraising (PSFR)
Interview conducted on April 28, 2014 at UNHCR HQ in London, UK

As the head of Leadership Giving at UNHCR, Anne-Marie Grey manages and leads a staff of 20 based in London, in building and securing partnerships with corporations, foundations, and high net worth individuals (HNWI). The Private Sector Fundraising Service (PSFR) works to raise awareness and funds for UNHCR’s programs and engages with the public to increase support for refugees. The PSFR Service supports fundraising operations in 20 countries in Asia and the Pacific, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, through a network of national associations and country offces. In 2013, the PSFR Service raised a total of $190 million from individuals, corporations and foundations globally. Grey’s Leadership Giving team raised $80.4 million of the total amount.

Grey is the daughter of a diplomat and grew up in Norway, Africa, Australia and the US. She completed both her undergraduate and graduate work from the Australian National University and studied Art History and English with a minor in Economics. Her 25 year career so far includes: helping establish the Australian National Gallery Foundation, managing public programs in marketing and development for the National Museum of Australia, leading fundraising efforts and CRM campaigns at Share Our Strength, leading marketing and development at the U.S Fund for UNICEF, managing international and corporate alliances for UNICEF, serving as VP, Resource Development at Save the Children US, and for the last two years, developing and managing the Leadership Giving section at UNHCR.

Grey is also the co-author of two bestselling books: The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit; a comprehensive, how-to guide to securing and servicing sponsorships and The Sponsor’s Toolkit; a how-to guide for sponsors.


Tara Hopkins
M.S. Candidate in Fundraising at New York University

Tara Hopkins is a graduate student at New York University. She recently completed a 5 month internship with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in London working in Corporate Relations. Prior to her internship with UNHCR, she worked for the West Side YMCA for 2.5 years as a Development Associate. She also worked in fashion public relations for 3 years after graduating from Franklin and Marshall college with a BA in English. Tara was born in Zimbabwe and has lived in Zambia, Kenya, Italy and Uganda. She is interested in issues affecting refugees, women and girls, and access to education.


Tara Hopkins: You’ve had an extensive career in several sectors. What brought you from the Arts to Humanitarian Aid?

Anne-Marie Grey: I began my career with the National Gallery of Australia and then joined the National Museum of Australia, where I was not only charged with fundraising and sponsorship but was also designing public programs and project managing exhibitions. After a number of years with the National Museum, I began consulting with many cultural organizations including: The Australian War Memorial, the Australian Council, a range theater groups, the Shakespeare Globe Center in London. I expanded my practice to include human service groups and homeless shelters and this opened a new personal interest area for me. After over 15 years in Australia, I returned to the United States and accepted the position of Director, Marketing and Creative Enterprises with Share our Strength in Washington DC, with responsibility for fundraising, which is almost 100% Cause-Related Marketing and sponsorship of their signature anti-hunger programs. I was able to bring my skills from international sponsorship and communications that I gained in the arts in Australia to the States. At Share our Strength I led the development of multi-million dollar sponsorships before accepting a position with the U.S Fund for UNICEF. So I went from: art to shelter to international development.

Hopkins: UNICEF has been very successful in securing private sector partnerships such as Gucci and Pampers. Please tell us about your time at the US Fund for UNICEF and UNICEF. What has helped them both succeed?

Grey: I was at the U.S Fund for UNICEF for three years as the VP for Marketing and Development and I worked specifically on corporate campaigns and our [U.S] chapter approach. I was then asked to consider joining UNICEF Headquarters to develop new approaches for engaging with the corporate sector. UNICEF had some outstanding CRM programs including “Check Out for Children” with the Westin Hotel group and “Change for Good” with the One World Alliance. These were largely customer programs designed to raise funds from guests and passengers. At this time, the UN is of course quite concerned about its reputation and credibility and takes great care in whom it chooses as partners. I was asked to find new ways of engaging the corporate sector in UNICEF from both a fundraising and mission perspective.

There are some people within the UN system who see corporations as part of the cause of the humanitarian problems. “How can the UN, whose objectives are ensuring universal human rights, partner with corporations whose objective is profit?” On the other hand, there are those that feel that corporations can be part of the solution to many of the world’s largest challenges. Personally, I don’t believe that you can exclude an entire sector of society from the issues that are facing the world’s most vulnerable children. When I arrived at UNICEF, I wanted to explore how we could appropriately engage the corporate sector. It wasn’t enough to say no to oil companies, we needed to find the appropriate approach to a partnership and as a UN agency, we could help shape and influence what the company’s social investment strategy would be.

Corporations can help non-profits, NGOs and the UN with advocacy and policy change, they leverage research and development to create products that help deliver life saving programs and products, their innovation and business expertise can be a tremendous asset for non-profits when appropriately applied, and corporations can help bring their core competencies to our work. It may seem common place today, but 15 years ago that was quite transformational and somewhat controversial. UNICEF and UNHCR (where I work today) both have robust due-diligence processes and very clear ‘no go’ issues to ensure our partners are the right fit from a reputational risk perspective. The partnerships we built and the win/win strategy that we implemented absolutely led to the success of UNICEF in fundraising in the Private Sector. Some of the partnerships secured under my time there were: FC Barcelona Football Club, Pamper/Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, ING Bank amongst many others.

Hopkins: According to the 2010 National Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey, a survey of over 500 nonprofits from around the country by Washington, DC-based Nonprofit HR Solutions and the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research, the vast majority of nonprofit positions are dominated by women. Why do you think this is? As a woman working in the UN, how have you found work/life balance?

Grey: It’s kind of 80/20. There are many women working in non-profits, but when you look to the leadership areas: boards, board chairs, CEOs and Executive Directors; I believe that woman are still underrepresented. I find it very interesting that women make up the bulk of the people employed but not in the top positions. And recent studies in Europe and the US indicate that women continue to be paid less then men. What is holding us back from the top? We have the skills and the talent. The work is demanding and leadership is not a nine-to-five option. Working in the UN requires stamina, lots of travel and can be all consuming. We are all passionate about what we do. That does impact on family life. Eventually my husband and I agreed that he would stay at home with our children. You need to make choices. However, on the professional side, I think the most important thing is that women have an obligation to help other women. As Madeline Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." If we are to ever reach real equality in terms of numbers and pay we need to work together.

Hopkins: What is a fundraiser's biggest challenge?

Grey: One challenge is managing expectations. Fundraising is tough, you have to deliver a target and there are huge expectations to meet goals and get people to believe in you. People also expect that women should be “soft” mannered and I’ve been told many times to “tone it down”. I’m a product of the 70s and 80s; we had to go at it as hard as we could! I do come across as a bit “hard or direct” but I think that’s helped in my success as a fundraiser and a manager. The second biggest challenge is the role of marketing and communications not being remiss in fundraising. They go hand in hand and I believe that together, they bring the most success to a project or a campaign, but many times I’ve seen organizations very purposefully divide these functions. Six years ago we used to argue if digital fundraising should sit in communications or in fundraising or who owned branding. I still see this flair up too often.

Hopkins: The need for philanthropy to become more like the for-profit capital markets is a common theme among the new philanthropists. How do you feel about this “Philanthrocapitalism” and do you think that charity should run like a business?

Grey: What the social entrepreneurs and the self-made new philanthropists are doing is great. They have created a vision and a passion to work on causes in which they believe. It’s important to look at how you can appropriately bring business skills to a cause and solve a problem. Monitoring and evaluation and the use of data for strategic programming are huge influences from the business world. Everything evolves and it’s figuring out how to adapt as a fundraisers or someone working in a nonprofit to see those trends and take the best out of them.

Hopkins: How have Corporations and Foundations reacted to the Syria Crisis? What types of initiatives do they tend to support?

Grey: Syria has been a very tough ask from a corporate perspective due to the fact that many corporations have guidelines that they will not support man made conflicts. That said, the Syria situation is moving past simply just the humanitarian aid or emergency phase. The crisis is now in its 3rd year and it honestly doesn’t look like it’s going away. At UNHCR, we’re now moving into the second phase where it is no longer about life saving interventions but about equipping refugees with the tools to continue their lives. Now we need to ensure children are in school, young people have access to job skill training, their legal refugee status is ensured, and that they have the tools and ways of returning home one day or resettling in a new country. This is the space in which corporations are interested. Corporations and foundations can bring expertise and resources. In relation to the Syria Crisis, programs such as livelihoods and education resonate with corporations who would usually say, “We don’t work with conflict emergencies”. With these programs for example, they see areas where they can bring expertise and innovative solutions such as job creation programs, addressing long-term lighting or sanitation needs in a camp, using technology to deliver improved education and heath outcomes.

We are seeing increased support form high net worth individuals and corporations and I feel confident that we are beginning to find sustainable projects to bring in more aid for Syrian refugees. Man-made or not, this is a humanitarian crisis and the needs are huge.

Hopkins: Mali has been in political, constitutional and military crisis since January 2012, which in turn created a humanitarian crisis that has affected more than 350,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and 175,000 refugees in neighboring countries. How do you get corporations and foundations interested in supporting manmade conflicts, ongoing conflicts, and less know “silent emergencies” such as the current situation in Mali?

Grey: Manmade conflicts and silent emergencies are extremely difficult to raise money for from corporations. Foundations tend to be a little more willing to invest in specific initiatives and projects, and unwilling to give broad support for an emergency. As for Mali, if it’s not playing in the media it’s difficult to raise funds. The exceptions are if the emergency is in an area where a corporation has a strategic business interest: Is it a country where it sources materials from? Does it have a large number of employees in or from the country? Is the region part of an emerging business strategy? It’s tough to raise funds in many of the countries where UNHCR works such as Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Mali. In order to fund our programs globally, UNHCR prioritizes unrestricted funds as the most valuable to the agency as this allows us to put funds where they are most needed.

Hopkins: Where do you see the future of International Philanthropy?

Grey: I think it’s healthy and bouncing back but it’s changing. Companies continue to tie their philanthropy and social investments to their business objectives. I believe we need to recognize this. I also believe that the new philanthropists will continue to have a greater role in reshaping non-profits and setting up their own organizations that can address challenges including climate change, hunger, poverty and education in ways we haven’t even imagined. It’s not enough to be a fundraiser, we all need to keep an eye on causes and the new non-profits that work in completely new ways both in terms of programs and resource mobilization. Look at Donors Choose as an example of completely breaking the mold on what it means to be a fundraiser today.

Hopkins: Thank you very much for your time and sharing your thoughts with us. Any quick advice to give to Heyman Center students?

Grey: Find a cause you are passionate about and learn everything you can about it from the issues, to the solutions. It’s not enough to be a fundraiser, you need to know everything you can about the cause, the people who support it and why, and how your organization’s programs make an impact.




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