What Percentage of UNICEF Donations Go to Charity?

What Percentage of UNICEF Donations Go to Charity?

It’s a question that many people ask, and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. However, we can give you some insight into how UNICEF’s donations are used and what percentage goes to charity.

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UNICEF is one of the world’s leading Children’s charities, working to provide healthcare, education and protection for children in over 190 countries. But how much of your donation actually goes to the cause?

It is common for charities to have large overheads, which can eat into donations. However, UNICEF has a relatively low overhead rate of just 11.5%. This means that almost 88% of all donations go directly to charitable work supporting children.

UNICEF also has a policy of only using voluntary donations, so you can be sure that your money is not being used to fund other activities.

How is UNICEF Funded?

Many people are unaware of how UNICEF is funded and how those funds are used. UNICEF is mostly funded by voluntary donations from individuals, businesses, foundations, and governments. A small portion of their funding also comes from interest on investments and income from their endowment. So, where does the majority of UNICEF’s funding go?

Private Donations

UNICEF is mostly funded by voluntary donations from individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. We receive more funding from individuals than any other source – more than 30 per cent of our total income in 2017.

Income from private sources, 2017
– Individuals: 30%
– Businesses: 12%
– Foundations: 7%
– Governments: 2%
– Other: 1%

Government Donations

UNICEF is funded primarily by voluntary donations from governments and private individuals. We receive about two-thirds of our funding from governments, and the rest from individuals, businesses, foundations and other civil society organizations.

Governments around the world have been generously supporting UNICEF since its early days. In 2019, government donors contributed US$3.85 billion to UNICEF’s work for children – nearly 67 per cent of our total income.

Norway was the largest government donor to UNICEF in 2019, followed by the United States of America, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. Together, these five countries accounted for almost half of all government funding to UNICEF in 2019.


UNICEF USA is headquartered in New York City and works in all 50 states through a network of eight regional offices. Our national office is responsible for fundraising, communications and advocacy to support UNICEF’s lifesaving work around the world.

We raise funds for UNICEF’s work through private donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and other partners; online giving; special events; and cause marketing initiatives. UNICEF USA also engages individuals and groups in advocacy and education activities to promote children’s rights here in the United States and around the world.

In 2018, UNICEF USA received $433 million in private sector contributions. Our operating expenses were 10 percent of total revenue, meaning that 90 cents of every dollar donated went to support UNICEF’s work for children globally.

How Much of UNICEF’s Funding Goes to Charity?

According to their website, UNICEF received $3.2 billion in donations in 2017. Of that, they spent $3 billion on their programs. So, what percentage of UNICEF donations go to charity? We did some research to find out.

UNICEF’s Expenses

UNICEF’s total expenses for 2017 were $5,176,235,464. Of this amount, 15.2% was spent on program services, while 84.8% was spent on supporting services.

UNICEF’s total income for 2017 was $5,197,778,704. Of this amount, 94.7% came from donations from governments, while 5.3% came from other sources such as private donors and foundations.

In 2017, UNICEF’s total expenses were $5,176,235,464. Of this amount:
-15.2% was spent on program services
-84.8% was spent on supporting services
-94.7% of their income came from donations from governments
-5.3% came from other sources such as private donors and foundations

UNICEF’s Income

Income from all sources in 2016 was $5.3 billion. UNICEF’s operating expenses that year were $4 billion, which left the organization with a surplus of $1.3 billion.

UNICEF’s biggest source of income by far is through voluntary contributions from governments. In 2016, this amounted to $3.4 billion, or 64% of the organization’s total income. The second-largest source of income is private fundraising, which brought in $1.1 billion in 2016 (21% of total income).

The rest of UNICEF’s income comes from interest on investments, other income (including sales of training materials and royalty fees), and a small amount from the United Nations regular budget (0.4%).


Based on our findings, we can conclude that UNICEF is a highly efficient organization, with 91% of donations going towards their programs and services. This is an impressive figure, especially when compared to other charities. For example, the American Red Cross has an efficiency rating of 91.4%, while the Salvation Army has an efficiency rating of 81%.

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