IOs Being Funded by the Private Sector

International organizations (IOs) are very often funded by private companies or private foundations. Does this lead to a perilous partnership that endangers the idealistic goals of IOs or does it mainly help IOs in securing their global progress?
UNICEF to continue Sony partnership after COVID-19 pandemic

The collaboration, which began in 2020 to support UNICEF’s pandemic response, is being extended into areas where the pandemic’s impact continues to be felt – accessing education and mental health care.

“We must remain mobilized to fight the pandemic’s long-lasting consequences. The importance of digital access to quality education and strengthened mental health services for all children cannot be overstated,” said Kitty van der Heijden, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “UNICEF’s collaboration with partners like Sony underscores our shared dedication to empowering children with the tools they need to thrive and reach their full potential.”

This partnership formalizes Sony Group Corporation's commitment with an additional $6 million for children and youth over three years to tackle the learning crisis by bringing them digital learning online and offline through the Learning Passport alongside the support to UNICEF's youth mental health programme and as a member of the Global Coalition for Youth Mental Health led by UNICEF.

@ Sony Group Corporation partners with UNICEF to support digital access to quality learning and mental health

The UNICEF and Private Support for Ukraine

The United Nations Children's Fund received financial and in-kind donations from many different private actors to support the emergency relief efforts of the organisation in Ukraine. For instance, IKEA committed to donating €1 million as well as furniture and toys to children and families affected by the war.

“Children who have become refugees desperately need safety, stability and child protection services, especially those who are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families. We thank IKEA for their commitment and support to provide children with relief and respite during this difficult time.” 

Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director of Partnerships

© IKEA commits €1 million and goods in-kind to support UNICEF’s work for families fleeing Ukraine

Other donors include, EXANTE, a financial service and technology company, the LEGO Foundation, the jewellery brand Pandora and Binance Charity, the “first-ever blockchain-enabled transparent donation platform” which donated a 2.5 million USD equivalent crypto donation.

"UNICEF is appealing for $349 million to provide critical life-saving support for children and their families. This includes US$ 276 million to respond to immediate needs within Ukraine and US$ 73 million for humanitarian needs in neighbouring countries. This funding will help to support over 3.5 million people, including 2.2 million children."

© EXANTE donates $1million to support UNICEF’s efforts to help children affected by the war in Ukraine; the LEGO Foundation donates US$3.7 million to UNICEF's lifesaving work for children in Ukraine; Binance Charity supports UNICEF’s efforts to help children in Ukraine & Pandora donates US$1 million to UNICEF's response in Ukraine


Unilever and UNICEF

The United Nations Children's Fund has collaborated with Unilever since 2012, partnering with brands including Domestos, Dove, and Lifebuoy.

“Since 2012, Unilever has committed over US$30 million to support UNICEF’s WASH, education, and gender programmes. This generous donation, alongside the provision of Unilever’s in-kind support and expertise, enables UNICEF and Unilever to drive transformational change for communities and children across different crucial areas, from preventing diseases through improved sanitation, to empowering adolescents with the skills they need to build their self-confidence.”

© Unilever- a UNICEF corporate partner since 2012

The Clooney Foundation, Google, HP and UNICEF

In support of formal education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the Clooney Foundation for Justice's partnered with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. The $2.25 million partnership includes a “generous” financial donation from Google and a $1 million technology grant from HP.

“By supporting the work of UNICEF and our partners to deliver education to every child affected by the conflict in Syria, the Clooney Foundation for Justice is not only investing in the futures of individual children, it is investing in the future of the entire region. UNICEF is deeply grateful for this critical funding.”

Former UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake

© Clooney Foundation for Justice partners with UNICEF to open seven public schools to Syrian refugee children

The UPU’s Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility

The Universal Postal Union’s Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and VISA Inc

“While some 91 percent of postal outlets worldwide already offer some form of financial services, there is still work to do when it comes to bringing more unbanked people into the formal financial system. The UPU's Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF) will provide Posts with the means necessary to fill this gap through the development of digitized postal financial services.”

© Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility

The UN and the Private Sector

"The United Nations and business need each other. We need your innovation, your initiative, your technological prowess. But business also needs the United Nations. In a very real sense, the work of the United Nations can be viewed as seeking to create the ideal enabling environment within which business can thrive."

– United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The UN is a huge Intergovernmental organization with many specialized agencies and organs. The first link with information deals with the UN and the private sector in general. 

© The UN and the Private Sector, Published by the Global Compact Office, United Nations, September 2008

The second link leads to an article about how different attitudes towards the UN and its agencies effect the views on how the IO should be financed. The article argues that rules that offered greater donor control and increased flexibility in commitments were pursued by states with a pro-UN orientation that wanted to expand UN-activity, whilst countries that wanted to restrict UN-activities did not pursue such rules. The article further discussed the difference between mandatory and voluntary funding rules in the UN system.

© Erin R. Graham: The institutional design of funding rules at international organizations: Explaining the transformation in financing the United Nations, European Journal of International Relations 2017, Vol. 23(2) 365–390

The third link leads to an interesting article about how unfavorable views toward a particular state will result in skepticism about the legitimacy of IGOs in which that state possesses influence. This certainly shows the legitimacy problems that IOs face and, just like the second link, it further discusses the problematics of bad relations between states and how this takes shape in the work of IOs. Scepticism and negativity towards the United States, the biggest contributor to the UN, could easily result in scepticism towards the United Nations.

In other words, considering the research presented behind the second and third links, negative attitudes towards IGOs could be said to increase the chance for more flexible funding schemes, and an even more active private sector role in the intergovernmental system.

© Johnson Tana: Guilt by association: The link between states’ influence and the legitimacy of intergovernmental organizations, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

The Dutch Postcode Lottery’s contribution to the WFP

"For 15 years, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has donated flexible funds to support the World Food Programme (WFP) where needs are greatest. This month, WFP and the Postcode Lottery are signing a five-year agreement to continue helping the most vulnerable communities around the world."

The Dutch Postcode Lottery was founded in 1989, by Novamedia , a marketing company that sets up postcodes lotteries worldwide. The Postcode Lottery has been a partner of the World Food Programme since 2004, providing  €23 million in flexible funding to the organization. Flexible funding means that funds are not dedicated to a specific programme but they can be “used when and where needed to bridge critical funding gaps.”

"This kind of flexible funding from partners like the Dutch Postcode Lottery can make a huge difference for vulnerable people in emergencies,” said Tim Hunter, Director of Private Sector Partnerships and Fundraising at WFP. “The Lottery is helping WFP lead the way in humanitarian response efforts around the world."

Tim Hunter, Director of Private Sector Partnerships and Fundraising at WFP

© To higher ground: How the Dutch Postcode Lottery helps save lives around the world & Novamedia Nationale Postcode Loterij


The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

"Better data. Better decisions. Better lives."

© Data for SDGs

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development seeks to act as a connector, a facilitator, a broker, and an advocate for better data. Nearly 300 partners, including international organisations, private actors, NGOs, public organisations and foundations, collaborate to promote the role and the power of data in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

"Governments want to make better use of data to tackle the world’s toughest challenges, transform economies and protect people and the planet. Companies are constantly innovating and want to contribute to public good. Community groups are using data to serve their people and hold their leaders accountable."

A big part of the funding of this initiative comes from private actors such as, for instance, the Hewlett Foundation, the Skoll Foundation or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

© The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development & The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development’s Funders

The ICAO’s Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation

The Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) was established in 2006 to combine efforts to improve preparedness planning and response to public health events that affect the aviation sector. It is a collaboration programme managed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and it brings together regional and international organizations, governments and industry actors. 

© About CAPSCA

CAPSCA is funded through extra-budgetary resources provided by member States, intergovernmental organizations and other United Nations agencies and resource mobilization is essential.  

Consequently, donors from public and private sectors are an indispensable source of funding for CAPSCA and greatly contribute to financing the programme budget priorities, such as the coordinated preparedness and response for communicable diseases outbreaks.  The funds go to regions, or specific countries or programme activities.

 © CAPSCA Donate

"Act by giving" WFP Executive Director Calls

"We're appealing to the young people who have access just as a simple cell phone to go on and give a dollar or two dollars or five dollars. And those of wealth who've made billions during COVID, it's time to step up in ways that you've never could imagine."

The  World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley has called on corporations, wealthy individuals, and the public to contribute more to steady a world rocked by war in Europe.

"When we don't have enough money, we have to choose who eats, who doesn't eat, who lives, who dies – and that’s when there's 430 trillion dollars of wealth on planet Earth."

David Beasley, WFP Executive Director

© WFP Executive Director calls for private sector to "step-up" in a world jolted by Europe's war

The WFP Purchase for Progress

"Through the Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, WFP – which itself has pledged to source 10 percent of its food purchases from smallholder farmers – encourages national governments and the private sector to buy food in ways that benefit smallholders."

The P4P programme was initially launched as 5-year pilot project in 21 countries to increase procurement opportunities for small farmers. The aim was to help poorer farmers access reliable markets to sell their surplus crops at a competitive price. The pilot of the P4P programme benefited from financing from key donors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Over the years, P4P has expanded to some 35 countries, and helped transform the way more than one million smallholder farmers in Africa, Latin America and (to a lesser extent) Asia interact with markets.

© WFP’s Purchase for Progress & Purchase for Progress Two Years On

The UNWTO's Affiliate Members

In addition to Member States, the World Tourism Organization’s membership includes private sector actors: “Affiliate Members”. It is the only UN agency in which private members actively participate in the governance of the organization and cooperation between private sector and public and civil actors is an important part of the UNWTO’s strategic approach. The aim of the UNWTO Affiliate Members is to promote fruitful exchanges between private and public members in exchange for an annual financial contribution.

© UNWTO Who we are, UNTWO Affiliate Members & UNTWO Affiliate Members Directory

An example of such cooperation between the UNWTO and a private actor is the  UNTWO/ Chimelong initiative and the donation from the Chimelong Flora and Fauna Conservation Foundation to this project focusing on the conservation of Wildlife.

"Wildlife tourism has the potential to benefit both people and planet and so play a key role in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. This is a sector with huge potential and this donation from the Chimelong will help destinations across Africa and the Asia-Pacific region enjoy the many benefits this can bring."

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili 

© Chimelong’s donation & Chimelong initiative


The Global Geothermal Alliance and the IRENA

The Global Geothermal Alliance is an initiative supported and coordinated by the International Renewable Energy Agency. The aim of this alliance is to provide a platform to the different stakeholders of the geothermal industry to promote geothermal energy and to foster dialogue and cooperation between the private sector and policy makers. It is funded and implemented by member states and private partners.

© GGA Action Plan

What is the GGA designed to do?

  • Foster an enabling environment to attract investment in geothermal energy.
  • Provide customised support to regions and countries with geothermal market potential.
  • Facilitate the exchange of insights and experience among key stakeholders in the geothermal energy value chain.
  • Identify and promote models for sharing and mitigating risks, in order to attract private investment and integrate geothermal facilities into energy markets.
  • Help to streamline outreach to give geothermal energy greater visibility in the global energy and climate debates.

© About GGA 

The IAEA and Private Sector Donations

The International Atomic Energy Agency calls on private actors to donate equipment or to financially contribute to its projects and meet the needs of Member States in the use of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture, human health, the environment and nuclear instrumentation.

© IAEA Renews Call on Private Companies to Partner in Renovating its Nuclear Applications Laboratories

“Potential donors can now express their interest to provide equipment to the IAEA’s laboratories, based on a list of equipment published on the United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM) portal last week. This initiative for a donation or a free loan is part of the IAEA’s efforts to modernize its nuclear applications laboratories through new partnerships in order to meet the evolving needs of Member States[…].”

Partners include, for example, The American firm Varian Medical Systems and the Japanese company Shimadzu Corporation.

© Nuclear Science for Development: IAEA Calls on Private Companies to Donate Equipment

The IAEA’S Technical Cooperation Programme

"The Technical Cooperation Programme is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s main tool to transfer nuclear technology to its member countries. The areas of action of the Technical Cooperation Programme encompass health and nutrition, food and agriculture, water and the environment, industrial applications, and nuclear knowledge development and management."

© IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme

It is primarily funded by the Technical Cooperation Fund which is in turn mostly funded by member states’ contributions. However, financial support from private actors is actively sought by the Agency, as shown in the example of the fight against Covid-19 and the donation of 500 million yen (around €4.35 million) by the Japanese multinational pharmaceutical company Takeda in support of the IAEA’s Covid-19 Assistance Programme. Aimed at helping countries combatting Covid-19 with a nuclear-based diagnostic technique, this programme is the Agency’s largest technical cooperation initiative.

Member States as well as the private sector have shown strong support for this initiative, with several announcing major funding contributions to IAEA efforts in helping to tackle the pandemic.

© IAEA’s Funding the Technical Cooperation Programme, Takeda’s Donation & IAEA’s Covid-19 Assistance Programme.

The WHO and the WHO Foundation

The WHO relies on contributions from member states (both assessed and voluntary) and private donors for funding. According to the WHO webpage the biggest part of the funding directed to the WHO comes from member states (34.53 %) while philantropic foundations and partnerships together make up the second biggest source (17.06 %). 

© WHO and Funding Webpage

However, the creation of the WHO Foundation in 2020 demonstrates the shift in financing strategy by the WHO. Established under Swiss law and legally separate from WHO, the WHO Foundation’s mission is to support the WHO’s work by widening and facilitating donors-based financial contributions.

© WHO Foundation Webpage

"An important part of WHO's future success is broadening its donor base and increasing both the quantity and quality of funds at its disposal. […] The creation of the WHO Foundation, as part of WHO's transformation, is an important step towards this goal, and towards achieving our mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable."

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

© WHO Foundation Established to Support Critical Global Health Needs

The creation of this separate entity has raised criticisms particularly around possible conflicts of interests and the WHO’s increasing reliance on private funding which is feared could influence its public policies in the future.

© Nason Maani and others, The new WHO Foundation — global health deserves better, BMJ Global Health, January 2021


PAHO’s Partners

The Pan American Health Organization receives voluntary financial contributions from private actors and encourages partnerships by emphasizing the need for cooperation with the private sector to provide technical expertise and help PAHO increase the scope of its work. However, PAHO clearly specifies that it does not partner with the tobacco or the arm industry.

"Through partnerships, PAHO leverages skills, technologies, and resources of the public, private and non-profit sectors to extend the reach of our programs, foster cooperation and innovate new ways of advancing health."

© PAHO’s Partnerships

Voluntary contributions' donors for 2020-2021 include, for example: the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sony Music Entertainment and Airbnb.

© PAHO's Contributors

PAHO and the Food and Drink Industry

In 2012, a Reuters report found that the Pan American Health Organization had accepted financial contributions from the Food and Drink Industry to help fight against noncommunicable diseases which includes diabetes and heart diseases. Reuters found that PAHO received $50,000 from Coca-Cola, $150,000 from Nestle, and $150,000 from Unilever.

©Special Report: Food, beverage industry pays for seat at health-policy table

In an official statement, the WHO has confirmed this contribution but reminded of the legal distinction between WHO and PAHO saying that there are “variations in policy” concerning financial contributions from the private sector.

“About 80% of the deaths related to noncommunicable disease occur in the developing world. WHO appreciates the support of governments, civil society and other partners who are working closely with us to reduce the death, illness and disability from these diseases.”

©WHO sets the record straight on work with the food and beverage industry

UNHCR and ANTA Group $1.5 million partnership for sports and education

The UNHCR and ANTA Group today launched a new partnership ('Moving for Change') focused on empowering refugee and displaced children and youths through the power of education and sports.

ANTA Group, the Chinese sports equipment corporation, is the third-largest sporting goods company by revenue globally.

The partnership entails a donation of 1.2 million items of sportswear and a cash contribution of at least $1.5 million to support UNHCR sports and education programmes, aiming to contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

@ UNHCR and ANTA Group partner to empower young refugees through learning and sport

Refugee health and access to water after COVID-19: the UNHCR and Sony partnership

“UNHCR is committed to working with private sector partners like Sony to ensure no displaced person is left behind in the ongoing recovery from COVID-19 or in better preparing for future health crises,” said Kelly T. Clements, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. “This important partnership means UNHCR can reach more forcibly displaced people with the essential health services and support they need.”

By leveraging Sony’s extensive expertise, world-class technology and business infrastructure, UNHCR will be able to improve access to quality health care and WASH and to bolster activities around hygiene and nutrition promotion, disease surveillance, early identification and health hazard response.

In April 2020, the Sony Group Corporation established the Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19 – a USD$100 million fund to support people around the world affected by the virus. Through this fund, Sony Group Corporation provides assistance across areas of health, education and support to those who work in the arts and entertainment industries, whose livelihoods were destroyed by the crisis.

© UNHCR and Sony partner to strengthen refugee health and access to safe water

The UNHCR’s Ukraine Emergency Response

"I want to thank the companies, foundations and philanthropists from around the world for the kindness and generosity they have shown in helping the people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Millions are in desperate need of urgent assistance. As the crisis deepens, I call on the private sector to continue its support."

Filippo Grandi UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Donations from the private sector towards UNHCR’s Ukraine emergency response have reached a record US$200 million only two weeks after the start of the war. The UNHCR continues to urgently appeal for donations to provide initial emergency assistance to internally displaced people and refugees.

© Private sector donates over US$200 million to UNHCR’s Ukraine emergency response

Sony’s Contribution to UNHCR

Sony Corporation established the “Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19” through which Sony made a US$3 million contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help protect refugees from the pandemic. This was the first major private sector contribution to UNHCR’s COVID-19 appeal.

“We are calling for strong involvement of the private sector in this humanitarian response, to use their skills, knowledge and resources to help protect the most vulnerable people of society, including refugees and others forced to flee, from the threat of COVID-19. We are grateful to Sony for stepping up to the challenge and helping UNHCR to support refugees and their host communities. This funding will allow us to further support national responses in countries with some of the world’s weakest health systems, and help reinforce our calls for solidarity and inclusion of refugees into national public health responses”

 Kelly T. Clements, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees

© Sony provides the first major corporate contribution to UNHCR’s COVID-19 appeal

The UNHCR's Largest Private Donation

In 2011, the IKEA Foundation donated US$62 million to the UN Refugee Agency to help civilians at the Dadaab refugee complex in north-east Kenya.

“The donation, which will be staggered over three years, is the laurgest private donation that the UN refugee agency has received in its 60-year history, and the first time that a private body has chosen to directly support a major refugee complex,”

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards

© IKEA Foundation gives UNHCR US$62 million for Somali refugees in Kenya

UNIQLO´s continued support to UNHCR over the years

Since 2006, Fast Retailing, UNIQLO's holding company has repeatedly provided support to UNHCR in various forms and amounts. Most recently, in the summer of 2022, a significant part of the income from T-shirts sold under the "Peace For All" project was donated to 3 international organizations, including UNHCR.

"Thank you UNIQLO and all your customers for supporting people forced to flee through the PEACE FOR ALL campaign. The donation will be used to help UNHCR continue to provide protection, shelter, and other forms of assistance such as health care and education on behalf of displaced and stateless people worldwide. With more than 100 million people forced to flee their homes, this support is more important now, then ever before and will help UNHCR respond to humanitarian emergencies around the world including Ukraine, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and beyond. Thank you."

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency

© UNIQLO Donates Proceeds from PEACE FOR ALL Charity T-shirt Project - Funds raised from worldwide sales of UTs expressing a desire for peace

The UNHCR and the LEGO Foundation’s donation

In 2021, the UN Refugee Agency received a 30 million DKK (US$4.7 million) donation from the LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI, the owners of the LEGO Group, to help  face the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

“The role of the private sector is crucial to supporting refugees. This support is even more vital when it comes to an emergency response and exemplifies the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees [...] Thank you to the LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI for leading the way with their generous contribution and showing other private sector companies how they can help.”

Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Director for Asia & the Pacific

© UNHCR receives largest private sector contribution for Afghanistan crisis in 2021

PwC Donates $4 million to UNHCR

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the international audit and consulting company donated, in 2008, US$4 million to support the education of refugee children in Darfur.

“This programme will help the children of Darfur maintain hope for a better life through education. It represents the people of PricewaterhouseCoopers at their best […] We have built a strong, successful organization over the past 10 years and demonstrated that we can accomplish great things when we work together. Our unique partnership with UNHCR is evidence of what can be accomplished when elements of the public and private sectors make a commitment to work together to get things done. The impact is profound.”

Samuel A. DiPiazza, Jr, global Chief Executive Officer of PwC

© PricewaterhouseCoopers donates $4 million to educate Darfur’s refugees

The UNHCR and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

"The Gates Foundation partnership demonstrates the catalytic role that the private sector plays in making a positive long-term impact on the lives of refugees."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have engaged in a partnership since 2006. The BMGF has been providing emergency relief, innovative technologies and financial support for different UNHCR’s projects.

© UNHCR’s partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

One of these projects is “Saving Newborn Lives in Refugee Settings” which has recently been extended to three other countries. It particularly focuses on family planning and newborn health of people in refugee situations.

© Expansion of the Saving Maternal and Newborn Lives in Refugee Settings Project

The ILO Funding

The International Labour Organization is mainly founded by contributions from its member states, but it also increasingly resorts to alternative fundraising approaches, such as public-private partnerships.

Public-private Partnerships (PPPs) play an increasingly important role in promoting decent work around the world, mobilizing resources, knowledge and expertise through partnerships with enterprises and other non-state actors. The ILO promotes PPPs as an effective and collaborative way of leveraging its values, principles and standards.

© ILO Public-Private Partnerships and ILO Funding

On the ILO's Development Cooperation Dashboard, we learn that, for the period 2020-2021, the private sector has contributed $31,56 million and public-private partnerships have provided $2,44 million of the ILO's total budget of $975.36 million.

© Development Cooperation Dashboard: Private Funding

Using the ILO’s Project Finder, we can see that for 2020-2021, 50 projects are being funded by the private sector or by public-private partnerships.

© Development Cooperation Dashboard: Projects Funded by the Private Sector or PPPs

The Vaccine Alliance GAVI and the Private Sector

The Vaccine Alliance GAVI is a very fine example of an IO who has been working tightly with the private sector. GAVI has been praised for being effective, and less bureaucratic than multilateral government institutions like the WHO. On the other hand critical voices have raised concerns that donors increasingly perceive that they can more easily exert influence through public-private GHIs than through what they often refer to as the ‘unwieldy’ traditional intergovernmental system of governance. GAVI receivs big amounts of funding from especially the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who is one of the founding partners of the Vaccine Alliance.

© Katerini T. Storeng, Global Public Health, 26 Aug 2014 & Gavi Web Page

The ITU’s Be He@lthy Be Mobile initiative

“Mobile phones have already been successfully used in different health fields, improving access to health services, training health workers, and assist individuals to manage their diseases. They are also extremely cost-effective. “

The Be He@lthy Be Mobile initiative joint project between the UN health and telecommunications agencies to use mobile technology to help member states combat non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as heart diseases, strokes, cancers, diabetes.

© What is the Be He@lthy Be Mobile initiative about and what are its objectives?

“Digital and specifically mHealth solutions have the potential to play a key role in transforming our lives for the better. They provide a powerful opportunity to extend and change how we access health services, as they can bring them to people in remote areas, and can make universal access to health care for all a reality – across the globe.”

© mHealth for NCD - BeHe@lthy BeMobile

Private partners providing financial contributions to the Be He@lthy Be Mobile initiative include Verizon, the American wireless network operator, and Sanofi, the French multinational pharmaceutical company.

© Verizon Foundation provides a grant to Be He@lthy, Be Mobile; Sanofi joins Be He@lthy, Be Mobile initiative

The ITU Sector Membership

The International Telecommunication Union is one of the oldest IOs still operating today. It is composed of three sectors: Radiocommunication (ITU-R), Telecommunication Standardization (ITU-T) and Development (ITU-D). The ITU is funded mainly by its membership fees, but it also receives income from its activities and from voluntary contributions earmarked to specific projects, which amounted to over 10 million CHF in 2016

© Voluntary Contributions to ITU-T & How is the ITU Funded? 

The ITU also earns revenue from its Sector Membership for private industry actors.

"Membership with ITU allows businesses to network with ICT regulators and policy-makers, contribute to global standards and best practices,and advise governments on ICT strategies and technologies."

© How is the ITU Funded? 

The ITU provides lists of its industry members who financially contribute to two or three of its sectors.

© Platinum Sector Members & Gold Sector Members

The IOM and Amazon for Covid19 Response

“By supporting frontline health workers in the district through the provision of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the nearly quarter-million-dollar donation will enhance the capacity of local doctors, nurses and medical staff in the fight against COVID-19. “

The International Organization for Migration partnered with Amazon, the multinational technology company to help Covid19 response efforts in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, one of the world largest refugee settlements.

“IOM and the humanitarian community, with support from organizations like Amazon, continue working around the clock to boost health response efforts and expand support to those disproportionately vulnerable to COVID-19.  “

© IOM, Amazon Step Up COVID-19 Rohingya Refugee Response in Cox’s Bazar

The IOM Private Sector Revenue

Most of the International Organization for Migration’s funding comes from governments’ contributions but the IOM also receives donations from private sector actors. In the past years, the IOM has increased its collaboration with a variety of private actors in order to fund and implement parts of its activities.

"The Donor Relations Division (DRD), through its resource mobilization and related activities, is the focal point within IOM for donor liaison, appeals submission and reporting. The Division aims to strengthen and diversify IOM's collaboration with donors and partners on IOM programmes and new strategic initiatives, matching donor priorities with ongoing and prospective IOM programmes."

© IOM Webpage Donor Relations and Resource Mobilisation

Recognizing the private sector as a key actor in development and humanitarian processes, the IOM private sector partnership strategy 2016–2020 outlines the objectives and outcomes of the collaboration with private sector partners including Resource mobilization partnerships.

© IOM Private Sector Partnership Strategy 2016–2020

The 28th Session of the Standing Committee on Programmes and Finance’s presentation on the IOM partnerships with the Private Sector provides interesting facts and figures concerning private sector funding.

© IOM Partnerships with Private Sector

Sustainable Private Sector Engagement: IOM's Ongoing Commitment

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has a rich history of collaborating with the private sector, recognizing its pivotal role in addressing global migration challenges. As part of its enduring commitment, IOM unveiled the Private Sector Engagement Strategy 2023-2027. This forward-looking strategy, solidified through Resolution no 31 at the 113th session of the Council in 2022, aims to fortify partnerships with the private sector. The strategy's pillars—Impact, Income, and Innovation—outline a clear roadmap for leveraging private sector expertise, resources, and innovative solutions in the pursuit of sustainable migration solutions.

© Private Sector Engagement Strategy 2023-2027

Under the "Income" pillar, IOM actively engages with the private sector to cultivate flexible income streams supporting its worldwide initiatives. In 2022, the private sector's robust commitment was evident, with record-breaking individual donations. These statistics underscore the increasing role of private entities in financing migration-related projects. This focus on income generation aligns seamlessly with research exploring the financial dynamics between international organizations (IOs) and the private sector. As IOM continues to navigate the complex terrain of migration, this strategy sets the stage for impactful partnerships and innovative collaborations, marking a new chapter in the organization's mission to enhance the lives of migrants worldwide.

© Annual Report 2022

© Donor Relations

The UNESCO Funding

Like most IOs, the majority of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s funding comes from governments’ contributions but like most IOs, UNESCO has worked to diversify its sources of funding and has seen an increase of contributions from multilateral institutions and the private sector. New collaborations are made especially through public/ private partnerships.

© Opendata UNESCO Financial Flows & UNESCO Mobilizes Higher Voluntary Funding

For 2020-2021, Private Sector funding represented 4,88% of UNESCO’s total revenue, with contributions from private foundations but also from private multinational groups such as the French conglomerate LVMH or the mining company Vale S.A.

© Opendata UNESCO Donors by Category

Partners can support UNESCO by providing financial resources to its programmes. Such funding is often accompanied by knowledge, shared value and networking opportunities because cooperation is focused on areas that are shared strategic priorities for UNESCO and its partners.

© UNESCO Partnerships


The IMO and the Global Industry Alliance

GloBallast, GloMEEP and GloFouling are three examples of public-private sector partnership projects coordinated and executed by the International Maritime Organization. Global Industry Alliances are, thus, designed to engage private industry actors in committing to funding public-led projects concerning the protection of the maritime environment.

"It is abundantly clear that global environmental problems like marine bioinvasions will be solved only if the private sector also weighs in with its vast technical, managerial and financial resources and expertise."

© The GIA- GloBallast Webpage

In the GloMEEP project, private actors partner with the IMO to promote low carbon shipping.

© GloMEEP GIA Concept Paper

"Leading shipowners and operators, classification societies, engine and technology builders and suppliers, big data providers, oil companies and ports have joined hands under the GIA to collectively identify and develop innovative solutions to address common barriers to the uptake and implementation of energy efficiency technologies and operational measures."

© GIA- GloMeep Webpage

We can also find on the same page the list of the members of the GIA for the GloMEEP project.

In the GloFouling project, the Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosafety seek to develop the management of biofouling. Maritime industry members include several companies specialized in in-water cleaning, anti-fouling systems or shipping companies.

© GloFouling GIA Concept Paper & GIA- GloFouling Webpage





Interpol's External Contributions

Besides statutory contributions from member States, which represent most of its funding, Interpol also receives voluntary financial contributions from other IOs, NGOs, foundations and private actors. The detail of these contributions are published each year and are available on Interpol’s website in an effort to ensure transparency and accountability.

"Working with the private sector helps us bridge gaps and provide vital services or expertise that would not otherwise be available to our member countries.

This cooperation may take the form of funding but often involves the secondment of staff, licensing of software, use of equipment and buildings, and other in-kind donations. In both cases, the selection process is rigorous."

© Interpol website- Private Sector partners

For instance in 2019, there are a few examples of private sector companies which have partnered with Interpol, and have also pledged to financially contribute to Interpol's activities.

© New Contributions Agreements 2019

The FAO’s Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies programme

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies programme has run for more than a decade across sub-Saharan Africa. The latest five-year phase is being launched with the support of an $11 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a long-time donor to MAFAP.

“MAFAP engages and partners with governments and stakeholders, such as farmers and agribusiness representatives, research organizations, civil society and development partners, throughout the policy cycle – from agenda setting, through analysis of policy options, to policy adoption.”

© FAO launches new phase of agriculture policy initiative with $11 million grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The FAO's Locust Watch

In 2019 and 2020 , Eastern Africa faced an upsurge in desert locust infestation threatening the food security and livelihood of local populations. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations provided crisis assistance to the affected countries and lauched a desert locust appeal to call for emergency donations to which, private actors such as, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mastercard Foundation each donated $10 million.

"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's support is intended to help FAO and national governments confront the critical  need for rapid control of the infestation, including aerial control of large swarms."

© Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Donation

Mastercard Foundation said its contribution over the next 12 months aims to assist FAO with the early detection of locust swarms, ground and aerial spraying operations, and impact assessments that would promote a sustainable and responsible locust campaign.

© Mastercard Foundation's Donation

The FAO’s Mountain Partnership

The Mountain Partnership is an alliance of different stakeholders hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization. Its goal is to improve the living conditions of people living in mountainous areas and protect the mountain environment. Membership is open to countries, NGOs, IOs, research institutes and also to businesses meeting membership requirements.

The Mountain Partnership aims to function as a broker for joint activities, facilitating contacts between countries and institutions and creating conditions for technical cooperation and resource mobilization at the national, regional and global levels.

Members are charged with mobilising funding for the different projects undertaken within the framework of the Mountain Partnership. These funds and financial contributions may come from philanthropic institutions, foundations and public or private funds.

© Mountain Partnership Webpage

"The Mountain Partnership members share a vision: a world in which sustainable mountain development receives greater public and private sector attention, commitment, engagement and investment."

© Mountain Partnership Resource Mobilization

The UPOV Plant Variety Protection Applications

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants’ mission is to protect plant varieties by guaranteeing plant breeders’ property rights.

"The UPOV Convention provides a sui generis form of intellectual property protection which has been specifically adapted for the process of plant breeding and has been developed with the aim of encouraging breeders to develop new varieties of plants."

© UPOV Overview

Part of the UPOV's funding comes from fees paid by the users of its services. For instance, on Prisma, the Plant Breeders’ Rights application online platform, the fee for a Plant Variety Protection application is 90 Swiss Francs.

© UPOV’s Prisma

Another example of paid services is the PLUTO platform, the UPOV’s plant variety database. It contains information on plant varieties from UPOV Members and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The payment of a 750 Swiss francs fee per year is required to access the PLUTO Premium service,

© UPOV’s Pluto

The WIPO Fees

Unlike other IOs, for which most of their revenue derives from member states contributions, 95 percent of the income of the World Intellectual Property Organization comes from the fees charged for the different global intellectual property services it provides.

Therefore, the WIPO is mainly self-financed by private actors using the international systems of protection of intellectual property the WIPO offers, especially the PCT International Patent system and the Madrid System for international trademark. 

In 2020, the WIPO's revenue amounted to  468.3 million Swiss Francs.

© WIPO Results, Budget and Performance

The European Patent Office's Applicant Fees

The European Patent Organisation is an international organisation with 38 member states, charged with granting European patents to applicants for their inventions.

The European Patent Office is the executive body of the Organisation, and its activities and budget are overseen by the Organisation’s Administrative Council. The European Patent Office is financed entirely by the fees paid by patent applicants, and in 2021, it had a budget of EUR 2.4 billion.

The top three largest applicants to the EPO are Samsung, Huawei and LG.

© About EPO & EPO Applicants

The Gates Foundation Stifling Diversity - Fear of too Strong Private Sector Influences?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the second largest charitable organization in the world. The Foundation thus wields a great amount of power as it grants a lot of funding to various recipients. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation plays an important role in enhancing healthcare and fighting poverty and its contributions has certainly achieved some of its goals. 

The Foundation has nonetheless faced criticism for its dominance and the related risk of stifling diversities of views among scientists and wiping out common policy-making functions. The Foundation has also been criticised for putting too much focus on certain issues, while other important ones have been overshadowed by the issue that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has decided to focus on. 

© New York Times Web page ( February 16 2008; Los Angeles Times Web page ( December 16 2007

One of the Foundation's current projects is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which aims to improve food security in Africa and reduce poverty among small farmers. Critics allege that the AGRA-mission is locking African farmers into a system that is not designed for their benefit, but for Northern multinational corporations.

© Deutsche Welle ( July 19 2021

In the Setup-page article "Private Sector Influence in the Multilateral System: A Changing Structure of World Governance" a fear of a privatization of the multilateral system is discussed. The examples above certainly shed some more light on this fear. Check out the links for further information!  

UNF and UNFIP as the Result of One Rich Person

The United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) were both founded as a result of the huge 1 billion dollar donation by the businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner in 1998. The UNF and UNFIP both work tightly with the entire UN family, the biggest intergovernmental actor in the world.

© UNF Web Page & United Nations Office for Partnerships Web Page

This is a perfect example of IOs being founded completely on the basis of private sector money. Check out the article discussing the so called phenomenon of "philanthro-policymaking" for further aspects about philantrocapitalism. Are restrictions on private giving for social good ever appropriate?  

© Rogers Robin: Why Philanthro-Policymaking Matters, Springer Link, july 28th 2011

The Council of Europe Voluntary Contributions

A very small part of the Council of Europe’s total revenue comes from private and non-state actors contributions. For instance, in 2019 the total of other voluntary contributions (including some non-member states participation) represented 1 432 140.19 euros on a grand total of  77 777 312.32 euros.

© Council of Europe Highlights 2019

The CoE is also implementing a variety of projects to which private donors can financially contribute. In the project data donors’ categories, by choosing non-state actors, we can see the list of donors and affiliated projects.

© Council of Europe Project Data

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and funding

According to the web page of the IRRI the mission of this IO is the following: 

"IRRI is dedicated to abolishing poverty and hunger among people and populations that depend on rice-based agri-food systems. Through our work and partnerships, we aim to improve the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; promote environmental sustainability in a world challenged by climate change; and support the empowerment of women and the youth in the rice industry.

Our research for development is characterized by its collaborative nature: from alliances with advanced research institutes; through strong collaborations and capacity development with governments and national agricultural research and extension systems; to partnerships with the development sector and our ability to broker novel delivery channels through the private sector. IRRI’s work is supported by a diverse network of investors aligned to common goals."

The IRRI was founded with support of the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Today the IRRI receivs a lot of funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Check out the links to the left for more information! 

© Robert s. Anders, Jstor, Minerva, Vol. 29, No. 1 (March 1991), pp. 61-89 & IRRI Web Page

The International Potato Center And Funding/Partnerships

The International Potato Center (CIP) seeks to reduce poverty and achieve food security on a sustained basis in developing countries through scientific research and related activities on different kinds of potato and root and tuber crops. The CIP receivs funding from a lot of funders and also works tightly with a big amount of corporations. 

© CIP Web page.

The International Whaling Commission and Acceptance of Funds

It is not unusual for IOs to adopt some sort of guidelines on the acceptance of funds to ensure funds are only accepted from appropriate sources, and will advance work that is consistent with the objectives of the IO. This adoption will at the very least paint a picture of an IO acting in the ethically correct manner. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) works for the noble cause of proper conservation of whale stocks and the orderly development of the whaling industry. The IWC has adopted guidelines on the acceptance of funds. The IWC has also adopted a code of ethical fundraising. The link to the lift will take you to their web page and provide further information.

The importance of this kind of ethical guides has increased after the tremendous failure in the UN Oil-for-Food programme, caused by the lack of accountability and guidelines. This failure is discussed under the third research cathegory on this web page. 

© IWC Webpage

Earmarked Funding a Threat to IO's Missions?

The financial flows to IOs have in recent decades generally been increasing. Between 2007 and 2012 the financial flows to IOs for instance grew by 31 % in real terms. These surging transfers are to a large extent due to the increased earmarked funding for specific themes. Earmarked resources have been described as a powerful means to mobilise resources, engage in partnerships and fill co-operation gaps. Earmarked money can for example be an effective way to respond fastly to a crisis. 

But if the substantive and geographic priorities of individual donors in the aggregate are different from those set by governing bodies, the practice of earmarking has the potential to alter IGO priorities and resource distribution. By 2012 earmarked resources accounted for 70 percent of the contributions to UN agencies. It is quite clear that this may endanger the work of some IOs as the donations may get a great deal of significance in the desicion-making as well.

© Erin R. Graham: Follow the Money: How Trends in Financing Are Changing Governance at International Organizations, Wiley Online Library, 24 August 2017

In order to prevent this, the OECD report to the left for instance advocates that donors should base their use of earmarked funding on evidence and strategic considerations. In others words openness and thruthfulness is important. 

© OECD web page (March 2021)


The Power of Private-Funded Support: UNDP's Collaboration and Assistance in Earthquake Response

In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in south-east Türkiye, the private sector swiftly joined forces with the government and international partners to provide immediate assistance. Led by the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TÜRKONFED), over 60,000 businesses mobilized in-kind and cash donations, reinforcing the crucial role of small businesses in delivering aid during crises. This collaborative effort supported by the UNDP, resulted in millions of dollars worth of supplies, including blankets, shelter containers, tents, beds, and essential amenities, being distributed to affected areas.The private sector's funded support demonstrated the significant impact of business engagement in emergency response, emphasizing the importance of public-private partnerships.

"Türkiye is a disaster-prone country. Earthquakes are frequent, this is the reality. The question isn't IF we will have to face a deadly crisis, but WHEN, and HOW WELL we will be prepared for it. So our approach at TÜRKONFED is to make sure our members, from the big company to the small shop owner, know what to do in the event of an emergency."

Arda Batu, Secretary General and Board Member of the TÜRKONFED

© In Türkiye, local businesses on the frontline of the earthquake response

Mobilizing the Private Sector to Drive Development in Africa

The World Bank's Private Sector Window (PSW) under the International Development Association (IDA) showcases a dimension of private sector engagement in development.

The PSW is designed to mobilize private investments in high-risk markets, particularly in IDA-only and IDA-eligible fragile and conflict-affected situations, by transferring financial risks to IDA.

This has facilitated significant private sector support in various projects, such as the Nuru Solar Energy Mini-grids project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has committed substantial funds to support private investments across Africa, aiming to boost trade, support SMEs, and enhance economic resilience in the region.

@ Mobilizing the Private Sector to Drive Development in Africa

IAEA Launches Rays of Hope Partnership with 11 Japanese Universities and Institutions to Enhance Cancer Care in Asia and the Pacific

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has partnered with a group of 11 Japanese universities and scientific institutions to enhance the nuclear medicine workforce in Asia and the Pacific through its Rays of Hope initiative.


This collaboration aims to boost training opportunities and share research findings to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, particularly in developing nations. Launched in 2022, Rays of Hope focuses on countries lacking adequate radiation medicine capabilities, prioritizing impactful and sustainable interventions.


The new agreement emphasizes capacity building in nuclear medicine's clinical applications and information exchange. Joint efforts have already trained numerous medical professionals, and the consortium plans to host scientific visits annually. The collaboration aims to enhance cancer care facilities by sharing expertise and best practices.


Rays of Hope also forms strategic partnerships and secures various funding sources to expand access to cancer care in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on sustainability and impactful interventions.


@ IAEA Launches Rays of Hope Partnership with 11 Japanese Universities and Institutions to Enhance Cancer Care in Asia and the Pacific