IKEA corporate has a charitable arm called IKEA Foundation. Their mission is big but specific, described by Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA’s founder:
We all share basic needs: a secure home, good health, a regular income, a desire to keep our children safe, to see them get a good education and succeed in life. That’s why the IKEA Foundation has decided to focus our funding on these key necessities.
The foundation began in 1982 and initially focused on interior design. It quickly transitioned to problems of child labor and focusing on the root causes. At the same time, the Foundation partnered with major charitable organizations to advocate for children’s rights and education. In 2009 the foundation’s charter and mission was expanded to improving children’s opportunities. Now it specifically addresses four fundamental needs for all children: a place to call home, health, education, and a sustainable family income. The IKEA Foundation refers to this as their “Circle of Prosperity.”
The foundation manages their donations through well-known charitable partners, such as UNICEF and Save the Children. (The full list is here.) Using this approach, the programs are managed by established and well-regarded organizations that are experts in their fields. Furthermore, these organizations are held accountable for all donations to assure that the funds are utilized as originally intended.
IKEA Foundation Impact
Through this approach, the impact in 2015 was:
- Donated €120 million
- Supported 49 partners with grants benefiting children in 46 countries
- Raised more than €11 million through the Soft Toys for Education campaign for UNICEF and Save the Children.
- Raised more than €23 million through the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaigns for the United Nations Refugee Agency
“Today, our goal with the IKEA Foundation is in keeping with exactly what we’ve always tried to do as a home furnishings company – create a better everyday life for as many people as possible around the world.”
IKEA Foundation Causes
Recently IKEA has sponsored two specific campaigns: Soft Toys for Education and Brighter Lives for Refugees. The Soft Toys campaign has raised almost $100 million for UNICEF and Save the Children in the past 13 years. The Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign ran in 2014 and 2015 and as a result a total of $34.4 million was donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
One of my favorite specific causes of the IKEA Foundation is a partnership with Better Shelter and the UN Refugee Agency. Through this partnership they are providing shelter units for displaced families–primarily from the Syrian War. IKEA has made financial and technical contributions to provide a shelter that has four walls, windows, a lock on the door, a solar panel and a lamp—all shipped in a flat-box and “easily” assembled in a few hours. These “homes” offer more security than basic tents, which is important to the families who experienced intense trauma just to make it to these camps.
Another specific donation is a recent emergency grant to Save the Children in Ethiopia. It is designed to assist children and families dealing with a severe diarrhea outbreak. Climatic changes including El Nino led to severe droughts and people had to resort to unsafe water sources. Then flash floods compounded the issue by spreading the water-borne diseases further across the country. Their €200,000 grant will provide drugs and medical supplies, distribute soap, containers and water treatment chemicals, and monitor water quality. This obviously supports their belief that every child has a right to a healthy start in life.
IKEA Foundation Co-worker Support
A great aspect of the IKEA Foundation’s donations is the IWitness program. Through this effort IKEA co-workers from all over the world visit IKEA foundation projects. The co-workers write a blog and it is posted on the Foundation website. The website also has an interactive map where a reader can choose a location and see the co-worker’s pictures/videos and read their thoughts from the visit. This is a great account of the specific work and results from the IKEA foundation.
I will keep you posted on the 2016 campaign through my social media. They typically hold their campaigns in November and December so there is still time to implement the 2016 version.
I always feel better shopping and supporting a business that I know supports important causes. I salute IKEA and their foundation.