In early February 2023, two powerful earthquakes hit southern Türkiye and war-torn northwest Syria, impacting millions of people and claiming over 50,000 lives. Even after a month, more than 850,000 people were still displaced due to the widespread destruction. Millions were in need of food, water, medical supplies and more.
UNICEF was one of the first organizations to respond to the emergency. Given the great need, especially in Syria where the humanitarian situation was already significant, UNICEF USA launched broad fundraising efforts across social, digital, earned and other channels. We harnessed partnerships and tapped our celebrity influencers and ambassadors.
Our goal was to ensure a pipeline of resources could sustain UNICEF’s lifesaving work. It was essential that fundraising happen immediately and be maintained for as long as it took to support people to rebuild their lives.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child by accelerating efforts to develop, implement and scale innovative solutions in humanitarian work. UNICEF’s emergency relief response in Turkiye and Syria is ongoing. More than six months after the devastating earthquakes hit, recovery efforts continue to help nearly four million children. While massive strides have been made to support these communities, international support is still needed to help restore a sense of safety and normalcy.
UNICEF USA continues to fundraise to catalyze rebuilding work as well as sustainable development work that will help UNICEF attain positive outcomes and impact for children and families.
Within hours of the earthquakes, UNICEF mobilized on the ground relief efforts and UNICEF USA catalyzed a widespread fundraising call to action.
UNICEF USA lept into action, reaching out to key media partners. This resulted in dozens of broadcast mentions and inclusion in articles about how to help earthquake victims, which raised money to continue UNICEF's critical work in Turkiye and Syria. ABC News shared a link to donate to UNICEF USA in their earthquake coverage, which alone resulted in over $1.2 million raised.
We also activated celebrities and influencers. For example, Jennifer Lopez shared with her 234 Instagram followers, Bella Hadid shared UNICEF's response to her 57.6 million followers and longtime UNICEF Supporter Gigi Hadid has shared a personal appeal to her 76.8 million followers, as did others such as Lucy Liu, Justin H. Min and Ricky Martin. Talk show hosts and on-air news anchors directed viewers to donate to UNICEF USA and ran our website in all lower thirds.
Our SEO team, social media team and content teams featured compelling stories from those experiencing the impacts of the earthquakes. Our digital team activated quickly to ensure that Americans seeking to help could easily find UNCIEF USA online and learn about the incredible work UNICEF teams were doing in communities. Our philanthropy teams reached out to institutional funders and individual funders to secure donations large and small. They tailored asks to each, shared results and real time needs, and followed up with impact created by those who generously gave.
Through our fundraising efforts, we emphasized how UNICEF is uniquely positioned to respond to emergencies on the ground with experts who respond quickly. In emergencies, moving fast often means lives can be saved. UNICEF and partners started working tirelessly to meet families' most immediate needs, providing lifesaving assistance, including safe water, hygiene kits, vaccines, warm winter clothes, medical care, nutritional supplies, psychosocial support and temporary learning centers. UNICEF teams also continue to support the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure and restoration of basic services.
UNICEF harnessed every tool, mobilizing to save lives as quickly as possible. In this situation, UNICEF USA undertook important efforts to mobilize capital that went toward purchasing supplies, activating emergency rescue and support teams quickly, and engaging in urgent advocacy with partner governments.
UNICEF frequently responds to global crises–the organization has supported communities before, during and after crises for over 75 years. What’s unique about this response is the size and magnitude of the need and the compounding factors, including the civil war in Syria, the freezing winter weather, and the second earthquake in Turkey two weeks after the initial disaster.
UNICEF USA rallied the American public to support UNICEF’s response efforts. Through these efforts, we reached millions of people through social media, earned media, web content, direct fundraising, and advertising across platforms. In addition to awareness raising, the organization secured over $27,636,839 which went toward ensuring that support could sustain for the humanitarian response and support broad rebuilding efforts.
Thanks in part to the marketing and fundraising efforts of UNICEF USA and key partners, UNICEF was able to launch efforts that resulted in reaching more than 70,000 families with cash assistance, providing hygiene kits, water and sanitation supplies for more than 586,000 people, reaching 518,000 children and caregivers reached with psychosocial support, and giving 1.4M people access to clean water. UNICEF is also working with partners to offer basic education in safe learning environments by ensuring impacted children can stay in their current schools, while also offering access to learning opportunities for those who have been displaced.
Through this crisis, UNICEF has supported over 2.5 million people in earthquake affected areas of Syria and 5.4 million in Turkiye.