Trick or Tag for UNICEF

The UNICEF Box in its 61st year
The UNICEF Box in its 61st year

Some organizations are so renowned we forget what their acronyms stand for, and the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is one of them.  Reaching its Medicare age on December 11, the fund has provided community level humanitarian assistance to mothers and their children since 1946.  The organization has counted Audrey Hepburn, Daniela Mercury, and Wyclef Jean among its ambassadors–and has even seen its logo emblazoned on FC Barcelona football jerseys.

Governments and private donations fund most of UNICEF’s programs, but on this side of the pond, American and Canadian kids have contributed their fair share, too.  Since 1950, the “trick or treat for UNICEF box” has become a Halloween tradition.  Now a partnership with Microsoft Tag makes it easier to donate to UNICEF.  Instead of pocket change in lieu of chocolate, smartphone users can now scan as well as spook this October 31.

Last week, UNICEF’s Kelli Peterson and Microsoft’s Robin Lanahan described their cause marketing journey at PSFK’s San Francisco Conference.

scan the tag with your phone to make that $10 donation
scan the tag with your phone to make that $10 donation

As Peterson and Lanahan told the audience, the partnership has its origins when PSFK released its Future of Mobile Tagging report in January.  PSFK’s staff partnered with the American division of UNICEF challenged design agencies across the globe to create innovative fund raising campaigns using the tagging technology.  WABI-SABI created a “1×2” campaign that turned the typical “buy one get one” free supermarket promotion into a UNICEF fundraiser.  Shoppers could scan a Microsoft Tag on products like clothes or medicine and then be prompted to donate the equivalent amount of money to UNICEF.

That campaign was a stepping stone towards Microsoft Tag and UNICEF linking again for this fall’s UNICEF campaign.  Kids once again can order UNICEF boxes, which on the back outlines the costs of items such as protein biscuits for malnourished children (US$1) to the price of a water pump for a village or school ($500).  But this year, one side has a tag that users can scan with their smart phone and immediately donate $10 to UNICEF.  It sure makes contributing a lot easier than separating nickels and dimes from Tootsie Rolls and Sweet Tarts; it also saves time from mailing a check to UNICEF’s New York office after running to the nearest Coinstar center.

Even easier than texting to Haiti, right?  As Robin Lanahan explained in an email exchange with me:

NGOs can now use Tag to have their supporters scan and donate directly from their mobile phone bill.  Tag can link to a custom mobile page and help NGOs collect donations or information, register volunteers and share videos and upcoming events.  They will be able to catch people in the moment and on the go with Tags on posters or other printed materials.

Mobile tagging opens a new frontier for cause marketing campaigns–not to mention the greater ease by which consumers will be able to learn what goes into the manufacture and processing of their favorite foods and products.  By the way, Microsoft Tag adds a cool factor, too:  the barcodes can be individually customized and designed.

Halloween may be a little sweeter for some children living in less fortunate regions of the world.  Corporate social responsibility (CSR) just immersed itself one step more among consumers, too.

You can order boxes for your kids here.

Photos courtesy of Leon Kaye.  Halloween crafts and decorations courtesy of Caroline Kaye.


Leon Kaye is a consultant, writer, and editor of and also contributes to The Guardian Sustainable Business; you can follow him on Twitter.  He lives in Silicon Valley.


UNICEF Boxes make your Halloween set-up complete
UNICEF Boxes make your Halloween set-up complete

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

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