Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save The Children, Meets Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between Carolyn Miles, the President and CEO of Save The Children, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City. This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

CAROLYN-MILES-BIO-IMAGE-2011-SMALL2.JPGDenver: The work of international aid organizations has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, as we’ve reported here on The Business of Giving. There is greater concern about how the money is being spent, and whether we’re getting adequate returns for the size of the investments being made. But one organization that is universally acknowledged by both experts and the public as being among the very, very best at this kind of work is Save The Children. And it’s a great pleasure for me to welcome to The Business of Giving their President and CEO, Carolyn Miles. Good evening, Carolyn, and thanks for being here this evening.

Carolyn: Good evening, and thanks for having me.

Denver: My goodness, Save The Children is fast approaching its 100th anniversary, your centennial!  Tell us a little bit about the history of the organization and the current work in which you’re engaged.

Carolyn: Sure. Really interesting history. The organization, as you said, is almost 100 years old, 1919. So really came about after World War I and was started by a woman– her name was Eglantyne Jebb. She did not have the right to vote.  She did not have the right to own a bank account, but she had this idea that children actually had rights. And that is the foundation of the organization, and it’s very basic:  the right to survive, to have health, the right for an education, and the right to be protected from harm. And today, those are still the foundation bedrocks of the organization.

Denver: Well today, one of the greatest problems we have is the refugee crisis.  Often when you’re trying to bring greater attention to an issue… or to maybe get some new insights around it, it’s useful to reframe it and look at it through a new lens.   Save The Children has done exactly that by looking at all the refugees as if they were a single nation. What does that country look like, Carolyn?

Carolyn: We really did want to reframe this issue because Save The Children has been working on the refugee crisis and refugee crises around the world, by the way, for decades, and this particular one around Syria for five years, going on six. So, when we looked at this mythical country, we said: “What does it look like, particularly for children?” A couple of interesting things came out.  One is:  if we had all refugees, there are 65.3 million refugees and displaced people.

If they all lived in one place, we’d be the 21st largest country in the world. The really shocking thing when we look at this–to me–was that it is the fastest growing country in the world. So, every day– 34,000 people become displaced or become a refugee. If that growth continued, by 2030, this would be the 5th largest country in the world. That underlines this urgency that we have got to solve this issue for people– not only in the Middle East, not only from Syria, but from North Africa, from Afghanistan, from other places around the world where people are fleeing every single day.  And half of them are children.

Denver: So, and one of the youngest nations in the world as well.

Carolyn: It is one of the youngest nations in the world.  We also dug in, and we looked a little bit at some statistics around education. Sadly, it would be the 4th worst country in the world for primary education…so kids getting enrolled in primary school, elementary school. It would be very high on the scale in terms of child marriage.  That’s something that’s happening– a big issue for Save The Children–marrying girls off at age 14, 15.  And families are making that decision because they think it’s actually the best thing for their girls–to protect them from sexual violence, to give them some economic future.  This is not true; we know that girls that get married at 14 or 15 have much tougher lives going ahead.

Denver: What would the economy of that country look like?

Carolyn: So the economy… I always like to end on this note.  Here is the hopeful piece– that these refugees and displaced people have tremendous opportunities, and they are assets. And if we put them all together, they would actually make up the 54th largest country by GDP. This is the good story… and the story that we like to tell about refugees and displaced people.  They have tremendous skills, and Syria is a primary example–very skilled people who are fleeing Syria.

Denver: Well, at the end of this report which is entitled “Forced to Flee: Inside the 21st Largest Country,” you put forth an action plan which you called the “New Deal.”  You’re asking world leaders to embrace it. What is included in that New Deal?

Carolyn: We’re spending lots of time on pushing world leaders on this New Deal. Couple of things; one, it really focuses on education, and we believe that this is absolutely the future.  Half of the refugee children in the world– which is about 30 million– do not go to school at all. So, 50%, that’s 15 million children.

We can’t go forward with that. Our call is that every child should be in school within 30 days of being displaced. Now, this is hugely ambitious; it’s hugely difficult. We’re getting push-back all over the place.

But it does make people think differently about: if I was gonna do this, what would it take to actually do this? So we’re sticking to our guns.  It calls for more financing for education in emergency situations. About 1% of financing in emergencies goes to education. It’s considered a “luxury.”  We really are pushing on that. We’re obviously trying to change mindsets around refugees. Part of this New Deal is really attacking this issue of : “Refugees are dangerous; refugees are worthless; refugees and displaced people are just trying to get services, and they have nothing to give back!”… trying to really change that attitude. That’s part of the New Deal..

She said their life was just horrible!  Every day there were bombings. All they knew was terror; they cried all the time. They weren’t allowed to go out and play; they couldn’t go to school.  The 5-year-old never got a chance to go to preschool. And the mother said: “We just had to leave. We couldn’t sit there and watch the future for our children just slip away.”

Denver: You’re also looking at it from a longer term perspective, as opposed to getting them some medical help and some food and a blanket. You have to begin with: “We have to treat this population for the long haul.”  Now, we talk about the governments and how they need to get their act together and address this monumental crisis in a humane, coordinated and systemic way. But what about the populations of those countries? Do you think that they would be supportive of a more robust and engaged program to accept and assimilate refugees?  For the governments, some of the biggest challenges are going to be from their own citizens…

Carolyn: That’s right. And I think two recent trips that I can point out that really helped me see this: One was Germany.  I was just in Germany about two weeks ago, visiting Tempelhof which used to be the giant airport where the airlift happened after the war.  It has been made into a big refugee camp. And I met many, many of the families there, and I also got to talk to German citizens. And I think what the public often doesn’t see is that people are reaching out in many places– in Germany, for example. Communities have basically taken on these refugees; they’ve housed them; they’ve supported them; they’ve gotten them into churches, into jobs, into the community.  That’s happening. I also went to New Haven, Connecticut.

Denver:  Just up the road from you a little bit.

Carolyn: I’m proud to say that’s where I live! One of the states in the United States that has taken in refugee families!  And I met  families in New Haven and again, there are organizations there that are taking in these families.  There are also community members and churches and people that are saying: “We want to help;  we want to step up and help.” And that’s, I think, the untold story in a lot of countries. It is extremely difficult politically. I totally understand that. I do think that the current administration… they have stepped up a little bit; they just announced 30% more refugees and displaced people will be allowed to come into the United States.  It’s still a tiny, tiny, tiny number. Germany– a million, the United States, I think 115,000. So, it’s still a big issue, but I think  about what people themselves can do… and in every community, in most every country, there are things that you can do for refugee families.

Denver: What about the psychological trauma for these children?   War is all they’ve ever known; it’s their normal. What efforts are being made to address these mental health issues?

Carolyn: I want to tell you a story. There is a family that I met when I was in Germany…. a mother, a father, and two little girls. The mom was a pediatric nurse in Syria; the dad owned his own business… a laundry business. They have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. Those two little girls were born since the war started in Syria. And the mother said to me: “We had a nice life in Syria. We had a house, and we had a peaceful life. We were both working and our girls were getting ready to go to school.” She said their life was just horrible! Every day there were bombings. All they knew was terror; they cried all the time. They weren’t allowed to go out and play; they couldn’t go to school.  The 5-year-old never got a chance to go to preschool. And the mother said: “We just had to leave. We couldn’t sit there and watch the future for our children just slip away.” And that trauma, both for parents and for children, is something that actually Save the Children does work on. So in Tempelhof, we have these very big, colorful, beautiful rooms that have been fitted out with toys and furniture and activities for kids.  And they can just go and be kids. And play!  And they have a place to play outside.  It’s a giant airport. So there are these huge runways.  They skateboard, and they rollerblade, and they do all sorts of things.  We’ve set up all sorts of activities with other partner organizations.

Denver: Very therapeutic.

Carolyn: Very therapeutic! And then there are always a couple kids who cannot  bounce back. Those children?  We connect them to more mental health programs because Save the Children doesn’t have that expertise ourselves for severe mental health issues.

Denver: You do things like healing and education through the arts and programs like that.   

Carolyn: Correct. So we use theater; we use play; we use activity. But there are some kids–and for the majority, I have to tell you, that makes a huge a difference. In this giant refugee camp, these areas for children are the bright spots in these camps. They are what make hope in these camps. And these kids, you can see them changing when they come to these places from where they’ve been.  And it makes a huge difference.

Denver: I bet it does. As part of your commitment to this ongoing crisis, Save the Children has also deployed a “search and rescue” vessel in the Central Mediterranean… because these passages are becoming even more treacherous. Tell us about that initiative.

Carolyn: That’s right. I think that one thing that people don’t always recognize is that many of these refugees are coming from North Africa.  This has been happening for a long time, even before the Syria crisis.  For eight or nine years, Save The Children has been working in Italy– taking in refugees, particularly children who come on their own–which is a very difficult circumstance. As people are coming over from Libya to Italy, the drownings have not stopped.  Over 3,000 people have drowned since the beginning of the year.

We said: “All right, there are other organizations doing this, but maybe there’s something Save the Children can do.”  We actually rented a boat;  we have a huge crew of people that we’ve now trained–doctors, nurses, psychosocial workers on that boat.  In the first weekend that we launched that boat– which was a couple weekends ago– there were 350 people that came aboard that boat.  They were rescued from rubber boats–50 kids unaccompanied…a newborn baby… a pregnant mom. We were able to get them safely to Italy.  We’re doing this with the Italian Coastguard, so it’s all totally with the authorities…and they’re coordinated, and with their blessings. And then when those children get to that port in Italy, we have programs there in Rome that actually take care of those children. I’ve been to visit those programs.  They give them a place to sleep; they give them food; they give them help in terms of their journey. Most of them are trying to get to Nordic countries where they have family.  They are trying to help them and make sure that they stay safe.  Because what happens to kids that don’t have a safe place to go, is they often will get trafficked; they’ll get picked up by smugglers; they’ll get put into prostitution. I mean, there are really horrible things that happen to kids…

Denver: They even get thrown into jail.

Carolyn: And thrown into jail and detainment

Denver: Well, let’s talk about some of your other programs. You have been at the forefront of cutting child mortality rates, and really focusing on children under age five who die from treatable and preventable causes. What kind of progress have we been able to make in that area?  And what activities are you currently involved in trying to make more progress?

Carolyn: Sure. This is actually one of the best, probably untold success stories in the world.

Denver: We’re ready to hear one.

Carolyn: Let’s end on something really positive. In 1990, there were 12 million kids who died every single year of things that we could prevent…things that no child in the developed world dies of–pneumonia, malaria, pre-term complications that could be treated, diarrhea, really simple things. And so Save The Children has been working on this one for a long time. In 1990 it was 12 million;  in 2014– and  2015 numbers will come out very very soon– under 6 million.

Denver: That’s more than 50%!

Carolyn: It’s 5.9 million.  That’s right. That is a huge, huge piece of progress. And again, that story is not told very much. The challenge now ahead of us– and the thing that Save the Children is really working on– is that first month of life. Now, in most countries, over 50% of these children who die under age five, die in the first month. Of course, you have to move backwards. You have to work with mothers, and you have to work on maternal health and maternal nutrition and family spacing, and all of those kinds of things.

Denver: Before the baby is born.

Carolyn: Before the baby is born!  Because you’re not going to save them all that day.. or that month. That’s a big piece of what Save the Children is doing. And some really tremendous progress!  I’ll give you one example.  I visited in Nepal recently, which is a country where we do a lot of work. And it’s really about empowering moms themselves.  The program gets pregnant moms together; it works with pregnant mothers on, first of all, nutrition:  What do they need to be eating?  It works on a plan to get to a birthing clinic or a hospital, because still in many parts of the developing world, women give birth at home. And that usually is not the safest place to give birth, particularly if there are complications. So… getting them to some kind of a health post, a health clinic, getting community help workers in those communities who visit those pregnant moms and counsel them.

And then once the baby is born, making sure that again those community health workers are there…they’re visiting, they’re making sure…monitoring the baby.  At any sign of distress or problems, they get that child somewhere where they can get treatment.  And they themselves can treat things like pneumonia, which is a huge killer of children. That “on the ground”  piece really makes a huge difference.  

One of the things we’re now doing a lot more of is giving those community health workers smartphones and tablets. In a lot of places… not everywhere, for sure not everywhere…but in a lot of places where we work,  connectivity is really starting to happen, even for smart devices. I mean, cellphones are everywhere… so cellphones everywhere we work. I don’t go to a place where I can’t use my cellphone… sometimes works better than in New York City! So that, we have.  But getting to that smart technology is another step. Using technology to remind others to send text messages to moms’ cellphones to say: “It’s time for you to come in for your check-up.” Or “ I’m coming today to meet you and the baby. Those kinds of things make a huge difference.

Denver: And that’s a big part of your strategic plan, I know, is using technology in that kind of way. You also do a lot in education, and you really seem to be personally committed to this one.  You’re happy to see more and more kids going to school, but now you actually want them to learn something…

Carolyn: Yes.

Denver: …while they’re there. One of your signature programs is “Literacy Boost” which is now in over 30 countries. Tell us about that.

Carolyn: So Literacy Boost came about from our long work in education.  Probably 10 years ago,  it was all about getting kids into school. But as we got more and more kids into school, we did more and more work at looking at achievement in school– particularly: Did kids get through the fifth grade? You go to any developing country and in first grade, you’ll have 100 kids, and then you’ll have 75 kids, and then you’ll have 50 kids. By the time you get to fifth grade, you’ve got 20 kids, and most of them are boys. What can we do to change that? We really started working on this program called Literacy Boost, which was a very comprehensive program to make sure that kids could read. Because if kids don’t read…and that’s true all around the world, including here kids will drop out. And they won’t be able to get past a certain level because at some point, everything becomes about reading and about something else to learn it. So you have to teach kids to read. What we did is develop this program… it has a community piece; it has a parent piece; it has an in-school piece, and it has a teacher piece. And we surround that child with things that help them to read. And it has made a tremendous difference. As you said, it’s in 30 countries.  Now what we see is the achievement for those kids. The learning, the actual learning to read?  That is really changing. And if kids in the developing world that we work with don’t learn to read by the fifth grade or the sixth grade, they won’t… because that’s as far as they go.

Denver: It’s over, absolutely.

Carolyn: Right. And we need to get more kids into secondary school, and they have to be able to read.

Denver: And I bet there are a number of people in our listening audience who were unaware that Save the Children operates programs right here in the United States. What do you do?

Carolyn: We do, and actually we have been doing work in the United States since 1932. So our first program in the US was a program during the Great Depression.  It was a school feeding program in Appalachia. The objective was to get kids to stay in school. It became the school lunch program in the United States;  that was our first program. Then we didn’t do a lot in the US for many years. We really have grown those programs in the last 20 years in a much bigger way. We work in 18 states in the United States that have the worst indicators for, again, literacy. Our focus in the US is making sure that kids learn to read by the 4th grade. Millions of poor kids in the United States never learn to read by the 4th grade.

Denver: You also do a lot in emergency relief. You first got very active around Katrina, and you continue to do that.

Carolyn: We did. And Katrina was an interesting one, because I remember actually that weekend when Katrina hit.  We debated whether we should send a team of people down to do anything in Baton Rouge.  We didn’t have US responders for emergencies because the Red Cross and Salvation Army were handling it. So, we sent a bunch of international emergency response workers from Save the Children. And we ended up being there for three years, built a large program.  We went back there with the Louisiana flooding in Baton Rouge and many of the areas…

Denver: I’m glad somebody did.     

Carolyn: …where we worked. So we’re there and have been helping families.  Initially, it’s really about food and water and getting people into a place to stay. And then it quickly moves into getting kids back into school, helping kids with the trauma they may have had from loss of family members and homes and pets, and all those things that kids went through in Katrina, and always do in these emergencies. And also working on child care, because it’s a key, critical piece, particularly for poor families. They need to get back to work… the parents need to get back to work.  If they don’t have childcare for their kids, they can’t go back to work. So getting childcare community services back up and running is a big piece.  We provide furniture, materials and funding for refitting things… everything that’s been flooded… and fixing up childcare centers…those kinds of things. Because to get families back on their feet, they need to go back to work.

Denver: You’re a very pragmatic organization.

Carolyn: Yes, we are.

Denver: You also have some extraordinary corporate partnerships. I think you’re working with about half of the Fortune 500 companies, maybe even more. What’s your overarching approach and philosophy to forging healthy corporate partnerships that work not only for Save the Children and the company, but most importantly, the people who are being helped?

Carolyn: Sure. Well, I think this has really changed during the time I’ve been at Save the Children.  I came out of the corporate sector. I think I was from the beginning– when I was the COO at Save The Children– very focused on: Can we build these partnerships? And things have changed tremendously. We really do look at what they call “shared value.”  How do we make sure that both the corporate organizations’ values and objectives are being met, as well as ours?

I’ll give you a couple of great examples; Johnson and Johnson is a big corporate partner of ours. And we have, first of all, the common platform of what we’re all about–they’re about moms and babies; we’re about moms and babies. So you start with that, and you say: “Okay!” And we set a goal that we wanted to improve the lives of a million mothers and babies around the world. And then we looked at all the different things that we could do together. And this isn’t just about Johnson and Johnson writing us a check for programs– which they do, nicely– but it’s also about advocacy. We’re doing things with them at the UN around child survival and maternal health. It’s about communications and marketing; they have a huge ability to reach audiences. So we’re doing videos; they helped us do videos in our refugee programs and get them out on Facebook. Because they have a lot more oomph than we might with people like Facebook…  

Denver: No question. You just plug into their channels of communication.

Carolyn: Plug in to their channels. And for them– huge employee engagement and morale booster!  Their employees want to know that the company is doing something to change the world. We’ve engaged many, many of their people. We’re actually looking at products for bottom of the pyramid. How do we make sure that people are getting the things that they need, particularly in healthcare? A lot of the facilities where we worked had very, very basic needs… getting those products into those communities and making sure they have what they need. There are lots of synergies, but you have to start with an overall goal, and then you have to look at all the different ways that two organizations can actually get to that goal.

Denver: And also, it appears, with a long view, right?

Carolyn: Definitely, a long view. So J&J has been a partner for 30 years.  They’ve been a big global partner for the last five years. And it built slowly and slowly and slowly in many, many countries.  Then we started putting it together with this global vision of reaching moms and babies, and that’s what really made it turn into a huge partnership.

Denver: You test each other out, see if it’s the right relationship, and then it just grows and grows and grows, as it has in that case and the hundreds of others. One thing that caught my eye on your website, Carolyn, was this “Donor Bill of Rights.” Why do you have that, and what does it include?

Carolyn: So, we think it’s really, really important for our donors to understand what we’re doing with the resources that they entrust in us. We can’t do anything that we do unless we have donors, supporters. And it comes from the child who gives us the pennies that get collected, to the individual that gives us $5 million, to the foundations, to the corporations…

Denver: You need it all.

Carolyn: You need it all. And so it is super important to us that our donors understand what’s happening with those funds, what are we using them for, what are our goals, what are we trying to achieve. So really that Donor Bill of Rights really talks about those things, and it talks about the right of a donor to ask us those questions, and to come to us and say: “What exactly are you doing in this particular area?

Denver: Transparency!

Carolyn: Transparency is super super important, and it isn’t easy, I have to say, running a very very large organization like Save The Children. There are lots of costs which donors sometimes would really rather not pay for, but we really have to have… in order to keep our organization going, and we need to be transparent on what those are.

And that’s important… that you let people know that it’s okay to fail…as long as we learn, and we are able to take that learning somewhere.

Denver: Well, in running any organization, silos always creep up.  I would imagine that especially is going to be the case where you’re on the ground in 120 countries. And you’re a real believer in evidenced-based programs. I would guess that if something was working spectacularly well in one country, you would love to implement it– with some local customization– in some other country. What systems and things assure that there’s this free flow of information?

Carolyn: This is something that we’re actually embarking on in the next– it would probably take us 10 years to get to a better place on this–but making sure that we’re sharing knowledge.  I would say that we recreate the wheel a lot every day because we have a person out in Bangladesh, and we have a person in Ethiopia.  They’re doing very similar things, but there aren’t as many good ways to connect them in real time. So, we have lots of ways that we do that, but it’s usually a little bit too late sometimes. So we’re trying to build– with the help of some of our corporate partners — a knowledge management system that would allow people– now that we have the technology–to get the technology to any of our teams, anywhere in the world… to share that knowledge on a real-time basis.

Denver: Oh, that’s great.

Carolyn: And that’s going to make a huge, huge difference. But it’s hard.  Again, that’s one of those things that donors’ eyes kind of glaze over when we talk about needing funding, but I think we’re on our way.

Denver: Yeah, it’s important. And also the things that are not working, you want to share…

Carolyn: Yes!

Denver: …that information as well. Sharing failure…

Carolyn: Probably, even more important. Every year we have a global meeting when we get all of our leaders together and awards are given out. One is for something called the Phoenix Award– which is something that failed and rose from the ashes of failing, and actually worked, and why did it work. And the country offices compete for that award.  And that’s important… that you let people know that it’s okay to fail… as long as we learn, and we are able to take that learning somewhere.

That was when the light bulb went off.  I thought: This baby that I’m holding can do anything in the world.  That baby, because it was born to that mom who doesn’t have the opportunity to give that child everything that I do, will not have those opportunities.

Denver: Talk a little bit about your journey, Carolyn, to the CEO of Save the Children. As you mentioned before, you came from the corporate sector. You were an executive at American Express, and then were an entrepreneur starting up, of all things, a retail coffee business in Asia…

Carolyn: That’s right.

Denver: …not exactly the classic route. How did you get here?

Carolyn: Well, it’s interesting. I think really what changed my path was living in Asia and travelling in Asia. I have three children, and two of them were born in Hong Kong.  We traveled a lot with these two little kids all over the region, and you meet families with children. And to me–and I’ll tell you about one particular story–but it really changed my idea of opportunities that children have.  Because I had these two children that were born to very well-educated parents, that could basically do whatever they wanted to do. And many of the children I met would never have those opportunities. And there was one particular moment when I was in the Philippines.  I was with my family, and I was holding my six-month-old in my arms, and we stopped at a stoplight.  We were on our way to Manila. And a woman came up to the window… begging at the window… as happens at many stoplights in places like Manila. And she had a six-month-old baby, or so it looked like, in her arms. And our eyes met through the window, and that was when the light bulb went off.  I thought:  This baby that I’m holding can do anything in the world.  That baby, because it was born to that mom who doesn’t have the opportunity to give that child everything that I do, will not have those opportunities. So from that moment on, my path really changed.  I started doing some volunteer work in Hong Kong. Then I decided I really wanted to do nonprofit work around children when I got back to the US.

Denver: That’s a great story.

Carolyn: And was lucky enough to be able to do it.

I was just in Bangladesh, and we visited a school there.  We were asking the girls particularly:  “What do you want to be?”  They talk about being doctors and pilots and policemen, and some of them will not make it that far, absolutely. But they have that hope, and they have that ambition, and our job is to make sure they have a shot.

Denver: Save the Children is considered by many– as well as those who work there– as just a great place to work!  Now, I think belief in mission is key.  But there are a lot of great nonprofit organizations that have wonderful missions and have disgruntled employees. So what else is it that you… and the leadership team… and everybody who works there… do to make it a place where everybody wants to show up to work in the morning?

Carolyn: This is one of the things that I think makes me proudest of Save the Children.  When people say to me: “ Which is one of your proudest things?” This is it. Because people are the things that Save the Children has. We don’t make widgets or pens.  We make change for children, and we do it through people. So, the only way we can be successful is by having great people.

Denver: Human capital.

Carolyn: Human capital! And that’s the asset Save the Children has. And it’s tremendously important to me that people are happy about working at Save the Children… they’re fulfilled at working at Save the Children… they want to stay… they want to come here.   I think we have some of the best retention rates of staff. I think we only lose about 6% of our teams.

Denver: That’s unheard of.

Carolyn: It’s really amazing, and a lot of the things we do– leadership development,  and development for teams, for staff members– is super important. We are lucky in that we can get partners to actually provide that development for our teams… a lot of times without cost to us!  We’ll be able to go to leadership development programs at corporate partners, or where we’ll be able to get much reduced rates to go do this kind of work. We’re lucky from that standpoint. But it is really important… and we stress with our teams that development is part of your goals. We can’t do it for you; you have to believe in your own development. We’ll give you lots of tools, and we’ll make the time, and we’ll absolutely want you to do it.  But it’s part of your goals. Every year when I talk to my senior team and go through that performance piece, it’s about: What are we doing on development?  What do you want to do? What can we do to build your skills? What are your career aspirations?  Where do you want to go?  How do we help you get there?

Denver: That’s great. Has to be intentional, and the organization has to make the investment, and you’ve done both. Let me close on this. In your line of work, one of the things that’s critical– so you can move forward with some energy and enthusiasm– is to be hopeful and optimistic. What provides you right now with the greatest source of optimism and hope?

Carolyn: Sure. Well for me, the place where I get the most energy– and there are daunting challenges obviously–  is going out and visiting with the families and the children. I’m on the road probably 65% of my time.  A lot of that is international trips, work trips to our programs with donors and with board members.  But meeting families and children, and understanding the challenges that they have and the tenacity with which they want to make a better life… parents for their children… every parent wants that. To see the kinds of struggles that they have and the things that they do is incredibly inspiring.  It makes me feel like: “Okay, if Save the Children can help people on that journey and give them that hand up, that’s really what our role is.” That’s where I get my hope and inspiration. And the kids are just amazing. I was just in Bangladesh, and we visited a school there. We were asking the girls particularly:

“What do you want to be?” They talk about being doctors and pilots and policemen, and some of them will not make it that far, absolutely. But they have that hope, and they have that ambition, and our job is to make sure they have a shot.

Denver: Fantastic. If people want to learn more about your work, is there anything in particular, Carolyn, that you would point them to on your website? And also, if they would like to financially support the organization, what do they need to do?

Carolyn: Well, we would love people to go to the website, it’s savethechildren.org. And two things I could say: One is to read a little bit more about the refugee situation, and we have this new report that we mentioned: “Forced to Flee–Inside the 21st Largest Country.”  It’s right on the front page; people are going to find it easily.  Learn a little bit more about what is the real story on refugees.

Denver: It helped change my thinking, I will say that.

Carolyn: That’s one thing. And then secondly, as you said, we absolutely need resources.  So we would love for people to donate to the organization.  That’s one of the best things that you can do to help nonprofits in their mission. But also, looking at advocacy, we have lots of advocacy opportunities too– to speak out for children.

Denver: Wonderful! It was a real pleasure having you on the show, Carolyn.

Carolyn: Thank you! Thank you, Denver.


The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6 and 7 PM Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on I Heart Radio. You can follow us at bizofgive on twitter and at facebook.com/businessofgiving.

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