Bill Loftus works as the volunteer chairman of the advisors council to Save the Children (SC), an organization which currently serves 185 million children in more than 120 countries worldwide.
In this role, Loftus serves as an ambassador for the organization, focusing on potential donors and volunteers. As a financial advisor, he also provides valuable financial advice and has initiated Coastal Bridge-backed events to promote Save the Children to the firm’s clients and broader network.
In the following interview, Loftus speaks with Carolyn Miles, Save the Children’s president and CEO, a position she’s held since 2011. Previously, Miles worked for American Express in Hong Kong, where she was confronted by the deprivation of the region’s children and was motivated to dedicate her life to ensuring that all children have what every child deserves—a future.
Loftus: What is the main mission of Save the Children?
Miles: Our main goal is in our name: to save the children. We don’t think it is enough for children to just survive—we want them to thrive—so they have the future they deserve. We focus on this through healthcare, with an emphasis on reducing infant mortality, as well as access to basic education and protection from violence.
Loftus: Is the current state of children around the world getting better or worse?
Miles: In some ways it’s getting better: Since 1990, we have helped cut infant and maternal mortality in half, and we have doubled the number of children receiving a primary grade education. But, in other ways, it isgetting worse. Right now, there are 60 million displaced people, and over half are under the age of 18, due to emigration, war and manmade disasters.
Loftus: Can you describe how Save the Children leverages local communities and nonprofits to broaden its outreach of development in foreign countries?
Miles: We have 25,000 workers around the world. Most are local staff based in their home countries, so they are better suited to communicate and work with those we are trying to help. Their mission is to take our programs to scale. SC builds the programs, tests them locally, builds evidence of their success and then gets local communities and governments to expand them nationally.
Loftus: How do you engage donors and encourage them to become lifelong partners with Save the Children?
Miles: Nearly half of our funding is from the private sector every year, and we have a $700 million budget. We have more than 100,000 active supporters whom we view as investors and think they expect a return on their investment. Now, the return isn’t dollars, it’s positive outcomes for children.
We’ll have conference calls, corporate visits and one-on-one meetings, but nothing compares to taking donors to see our programs first-hand. I just returned from a group visit to Nicaragua; it means a lot to contributors tosee for themselves what is going on.
We don’t think it is enough for children to just survive—we want them to thrive—so they have the future they deserve.
Our biggest goal for funding is to change people’s perception of giving. People typically don’t think about making a big investment in an international nongovernmental organization. People will give $2 million to their alm mater, $2 million to a hospital, but $10,000 to Save the Children. The big picture is that we want people to make a bet on children, because they represent the world ahead.
Loftus: If you could identify your biggest hope for Save the Children, what would that be?
Miles: Number one, no child will die under the age of 5 from preventable causes. Two, every child will have access to basic education. And, goal number three is protecting kids from violence. All really big, really difficult goals. All requiring a lot of ambition.