BY JOE KUHN
WEST NYACK- There was a palpable sense of optimism in the air at the Manhattan Woods Golf Club last Monday as the local club hosted the sixth annual UNICEF Golf Classic.
Golfers, philanthropists, and even a few retired NY Giants, gathered from across the state for a day of friendly competition; their goal to spread awareness and raise funds for the massive charity organization that helps vulnerable children in 190 different countries. The all-day, 18-hole tournament, which is just one of many fundraisers organized across the country by UNICEF, has raised over a million and a half dollars since its inception in 2012 and in this year alone has accumulated $252,175.
While the funds raised by the tournament are usually directed towards many of UNICEF’s humanitarian operations, this year’s contributions have been specially ear marked for emergency relief work in areas devastated by Hurricane Irma; the donations will be used to help mobilize an urgent response to meet the needs of the children affected by the storm. The money raised on Monday will help to provide food, water, shelter, protection and health care to children in desperate need of a helping hand.
The United Nations Children’s Fund is a global force of good will that in 2016 alone responded to 344 humanitarian emergencies – from conflicts to natural disasters – across 108 countries. UNICEF is distinctive not only in the scope of their operations but also in their effectiveness; UNICEF enjoys a degree of trust and cooperation unique among international charitable organizations. UNICEF is able to easily work with the regional authorities wherever their mission takes them, allowing them to affect change at a local level and really respond to each community’s specific needs.
This “core competency” is what makes UNICEF such an excellent charity, according to Phil Birsh, a chairman of the event. Mr. Birsh, who is an active administrator in many charitable organizations, including Broadway Cares, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping AIDS patients, become involved in UNICEF in part because of the organizations incredible efficiency. He proudly affirms UNICEF is very successful at “perpetuating itself and its goals” and that all of the funds the organization accumulates are “effectively spent” on its mission statement.
UNICEF’s broad global mission is funded by private donations. Despite their affiliation with the United Nations, UNICEF receives no money from the intergovernmental organization; it subsists on the voluntary contributions of governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, corporations and private individuals.
Fundraisers like the UNICEF Golf Classic are an integral part of that funding, but that’s not the only benefit such events provide. According to Edward G. Lloyd, the Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer of UNICEF USA, the greatest benefit of fundraisers are the networking opportunities they afford.
Mr. Lloyd, who has been working with UNICEF for 16 years, maintains that events like the tournament allow the charity to form close connections with local communities and spread awareness of their special brand of philanthropy. Mr. Lloyd claims that the relationships formed at these gatherings are a great benefit to UNICEF. The CFO believes it is “difficult not to be engaged” with the upbeat atmosphere of his organization going so far as to call it “contagious”
This was certainly the case for Barron Segar, the current chief development officer and executive vice president for UNICEF USA. Segar began his career at UNICEF as a reginal board member in Atlanta. After one trip into the field, Segar was inspired to work for UNICEF on a permanent basis, and is now one of the highest-ranking members in the organization. It seems UNICEF’s greatest strength is the organization’s ability to attract people to its cause.
This year’s UNICEF classic was a rousing success for the organization, and a great benefit to vulnerable children all over the globe. The winner of this year’s tournament was Portfolio Evaluations Inc. a private consulting firm based in Warren New Jersey.